Maine native, Bowdoin College graduate and founder of the Healthy Learner project in Zambia Lonnie Hackett has been named the winner of the 2020 Rotary Zone 32 Donald MacRae Peace Award. Healthy Learners is a non-profit organization working in Zambia to deliver health care to vulnerable children by educating elementary school administrators and teachers to recognize illness in their students and provide them access to government clinics in their communities.
The award is named in honor of Halifax Rotarian Donald MacRae who first proposed that Rotary promote goodwill and peace among nations in 1918. The award is for outstanding achievement in advancing international understanding, goodwill, and peace. Zone 32 consists of more than 1000 Rotary Clubs from Bermuda to Canada as well as parts of the United States.
District 7930 Rotarians have been significant supporters of Lonnie and the Healthy Learners project over the past six years. More than 55 Rotary Clubs worldwide, including 23 District 7930 clubs, have supported three Rotary Global Grants. The Rotary Club of Brunswick Maine (District 7780) sponsored a Rotary Global Grant in 2014, and in 2016 and 2018, the Rotary Club of Ipswich, working with Brunswick Rotary, submitted two additional global grants ($123,000 and $200,000). The third global grant is nearing completion.
Lonnie graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in 2014. He is a National Truman Scholar, a College Football Hall of Fame National Scholar Athlete, and a two-time Rhodes Scholar finalist. Lonnie was the 2017 recipient of a $35,000 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship and received a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration at Oxford University in the UK in 2018.
While an underclassman at Bowdoin, Lonnie received a fellowship to teach at a low-income school in Lusaka, Zambia. He realized that few of his students were able to take advantage of the meager opportunities the school offered them, as most were afflicted by malnutrition, infections and childhood diseases. Knowing that more than 80% of Zambia’s children attend primary school, Lonnie identified a simple solution to a complex problem: train teachers as front-line health workers and partner with government agencies to deliver health education and medical care where children spend most of their time--in school. He founded and became president of Healthy Kids/Brighter Future (renamed Healthy Learners in 2019) while still a student at Bowdoin.
Healthy Learners has since expanded to over 100 primary schools in Lusaka, providing improved medical care, vaccination coverage, vitamin supplementation, and health education for more than 105,000 students, and he has built a sustainable model of partnership with the Zambian Government and international NGOs. Thank you to the District 7930 Rotarians who supported Healthy Learners, and congratulations to Lonnie on this recognition of his significant achievement.