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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
John Bett

Mum of 16 opens up school for 200 poor kids with best friend after raising £350k through TikTok

A mum with 16 children raised £350,000 through TikTok and opened a school for underprivileged kids - and now she has 200 students.

Dora Moono Nyambe, 30, became an online sensation after sharing videos of her life as a mum-of-15 on TikTok, but being social-media famous was never her goal.

A teacher by trade, Dora was committed to improving the lives of others and when she went to Mapapa, a village in Zambia, in Southern Africa, she was shocked by the number of children she encountered who had no access to education.

She began holding make-shift classes, teaching children under the shade of a nearby tree, then used her TikTok platform to raise money for a local school - and soon the donations came flooding in.

Dora managed to raise more than £350,000 ($450,000) and opened her own school - called Footprints for Hope - where she teaches around 200 students and provides them with food, and if they need it, a safe place to sleep at night.

Pupils at Footprints for Hope have seen their lives change dramatically (tiktok/@doramoononyambe)

What do you think about Dora's incredible accomplishment? Let us know in the comments...

Dora said: "I came to papa in 2019 to visit with a friend of mine, and that's when I discovered that there was extreme poverty in the village.

"Kids didn't go to school or even have a place to learn, some would spend a day or two days hungry, so I decided it would be better if I just gave everything up and started a school under a tree.

"I came over with my kids, at that stage I had five, I took all my savings and bought some land and started feeding the kids with the money, and buying school supplies and everything else.

They learn how to cook and prepare food (Great Lakes Publishing)

"After that my daughter, her name is Grace, she found out about TikTok and she joined. I registered in my name and she used it to watch videos on my account - then we made a dance video. She was like, 'we should make more videos',

"I said I can't because I'm not a dance person, but I decided to share a bit of my life - feeding the kids, educating them under a tree, and people were really interested and my account started gaining traction until I was verified.

"I was hesitant to set up a GoFundMe but it was the best decision, people started coming on and helping, sending me gifts, and now we have 12 classrooms and a library, storage room, kids studying two syllabuses, Zambia and Cambridge.

"The children had never been educated and now they're reading at a tenth-grade level.

They learn how to read and write (Great Lakes Publishing)

"We raised about $450,000 (£363,000). That has been able to feed, clothe, give health care, house, and give employment to 35 employees at the school for about two years.

"Social media is a powerful tool.

"It was different, I came on to share about my life - I wasn't lobbying for money, I didn't ask people to help us or anything like that, if there's a problem right now I would ask for suggestions from my followers, but before I wouldn't do that - people saw I wanted to do something but it wasn't poor people in Africa that need help, it was making a space for children to learn.

"I think people saw that and people like authenticity, when I started there weren't so many people doing what I was doing.

Dora saw the children with no hope of education and wanted to make a difference (Great Lakes Publishing)

"I grew up in a missionary community and so I saw the effects of having someone foreign who doesn't understand the culture or the people, I didn't grow up here but I knew people wouldn't hide stuff from me.

"Having someone from the West come over they would think how much money would I get from that person, they see me and they know I want to help - that is important for me, but that is not to say that everyone that comes from the west has the white saviour mentality now.

"We have about 180 - 200 students right now, we will be getting more soon. They come on their own, if a child comes and says they want to start school or they want a meal we don't turn them away.

Dora has teamed up with American researcher Joseph Schmitt to tell her story (©2022 Jason J Mulikita, All Rights Reserved)

"They have three meals a day and two snacks, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they have chicken for lunch and supper, then they have a snack at 10am.

"In the morning they have porridge or bread or oats or whatever is around. Tuesday they have eggs and vegetables and Thursday they have beans and vegetables. We eat a lot of soya porridge so they're very plump kids.

"We teach all year round, we close the second week of December and open in February. That's because it's the farming season so some kids are needed to help their families, farming to them is a very integral part of their life. Some live very far away.

"We have about 120 that live in the school, if they can't go home we find them alternative homes they can visit. Some stay at the school."

Recently, Dora teamed up with Joseph Schmitt, a Fullbright Scholar and American researcher in Africa, and together they have told her story in a book - Under a Zambian Tree.

Joseph spent a year shadowing Dora and conducting interviews and they hope the book, which was released on February 7, will sell 5,000 copies - the profits from which will go to Footprints of Hope.

Under a Zambian Tree has just been released (Great Lakes Publishing)
Dora's journey started with a single TikTok post (tiktok/@doramoononyambe)

"We have plans, we have bought some more land and we will have another building. We're building a hospital for the village as well.

"We teach English, science, they also do math and they do creative arts, and home economics, and Geography. Then for the Zambian one we have Bemba, they learn technology studies, and they also learn IT.

"Only five of my children go to the school, the rest are in boarding school - it was the only option for them, we don't have a high school nearby. It takes eight hours to get to their school.

"I've adopted 13 children now, I'm not yet married. It was never a conscious decision, the situation just called for me to get them.

"I never went out and purposefully adopted them. They were in situations where they couldn't be put in foster care or they needed someone, and that's how it happened.

"It's a lot of work, but I have a great support team. My best friend works at the school with me, she's called Thandiwe, she's the head teacher, so she helps me a lot. She lives next door so she's always there.

"I adopted the first one at 22, and I've just turned 30. "

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