Joseph Schmitt, a 25-year-old writer and expedition traveler from Kohler, Wisconsin, certainly has stories to share. Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Central and South America - are just a handful of places this young traveler has explored.
However, probably the most inspiring experience of his life was waiting for him in Zambia. The story of a single mum of 16 who has dedicated her life to providing education and shelter for underprivileged kids.
The journey from Kohler to Zambia
Upon graduating from high school, Joseph moved to Boston, where he attended Northeastern University and graduated with a degree in finance and economics. As the trips were cut short because of COVID-19, Joseph started working on writing an economic research proposal for the prestigious Fulbright grant while working his full-time job. The proposal was a success, landing him a grant and the opportunity to move to Zambia, where he met Dora Moono Nyambe. This is where the story begins.
While living in Zambia and collecting information for his research, Joseph met this incredible woman who dedicated her life to educate and help Zambia's most vulnerable children. Upon meeting each other, Dora and Joseph have instantly developed a close relationship that led to a collaborative project - book named 'Under A Zambian Tree' that will tell the story of Dora's life and the NGO Footprints of Hope.
Who is Dora Moono Nyambe?
Zambian educator, international advocate, a public speaker - these are the words that describe Dora. However, her journey to this moment in her life was not an easy one. Being a black African woman born in Zambia, Dora has experienced racism, sexism, corruption, government intimidation and even fell a victim of rape. Despite all the devastating setbacks that could have left anyone feeling destroyed and powerless, Dora persevered.
During one of her trips to a friend's village, Dora experienced the injustice of forced marriage, malnourishment, and lack of primary education which made her want to take matters into her own hands. A 27 years old Dora took her small savings and moved to a remote village, Mapapa, where she built a mud hut, and started teaching children underneath the shade of a tree.
The impact of Dora and the worldwide recognition
Flash forward, three years later, Dora has saved over 180 children from abuse, forced marriage, rape, and neglect. Personally, she has adopted 13 children and remains unmarried. The impact of this incredible Zambian woman is loud not only in Zambia, but across the world, too.
To this day Dora has collected over 4 million followers worldwide via social media. Documenting her life in short videos, Dora has become somewhat of a TikTok sensation with millions of views. She also founded an NGO called ‘Footprints of Hope’ that managed to raise over $500,000 dollars. The work Dora is doing has also been recognized by UNICEF and the United Nations. In October of 2022, she was a keynote speaker at the UN’s Day of the Girl in Istanbul, Turkey.
Inspired by the story and work of Dora, Joseph has spent 200+ hours interviewing the community, her family, friends, and colleagues. He put everything into the book to help share Dora's story and amplify her voice. The book 'Under A Zambian Tree' will be released on February 7th of 2023 and is currently available for pre-sale.
The current goal is to sell 5,000 copies of the book, of which 100% of the proceeds will directly benefit the children at Footprints of Hope.
More about the book:
Under a Zambian Tree is the inspiring and emotional account of one woman's quest to educate and empower rural village children. Dora Moono Nyambe- or "Teacher Dora"- began with no funding and no school building, just an unwavering belief 'that kindness should drive humanity and development.' From preventing child marriages, navigating village politics, and reaching millions of supporters online, Teacher Dora's epic journey from mud hut to full-fledged boarding school is a testament to her incredible resilience and tenacity. Readers will not only be inspired by Dora's story, but will finish reading feeling empowered to initiate positive change under their own "Zambian Tree."
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