Whitney Morreau grew up in Lone Oak, KY, graduated from Lone Oak High School, and at age 19 while in College, took her first mission trip to Africa. “I fell in love with it”, she says, “and have been doing everything I can since then, to be able to go back and work there.” Whitney has been working in Africa now for the past 4 to 5 years. She is very passionate in the work in which she is involved. As you listen to her share with you her story and all she is involved in, you will quickly learn that she is a person with a mission, on a mission and for a mission. “For the last year-and-a-half I have been in Lusaka, the Capital city of Zambia, and have been spending a lot of time in an urban compound in Lusaka called Ng’ombe. This compound is extremely poor with a population of about one hundred thousand. They do not have access to much electricity or running water. One hundred thousand people live in Ng’ombe and fifty thousand are children under the age of sixteen.”
In Whitney’s own words: “Just to give you a picture of one school that I visit; it’s called Fountain of Life Community School. There are 250 students from pre-school to grade seven and they have only two teachers. They manage three to four grades at one time and they meet in a run-down house in. Multiple grades will meet in one room at the same time. They have no books. The grade one class has only one English book and one math book and those are just student books, not teacher’s guides. They have no teacher’s guide. That’s what a lot of the schools look like.”
She goes on to explain. “In this area there are only two government schools for all of their kids. There are not enough classrooms, books and teachers, and the children can’t afford to pay for what they need in order to go the government schools. So, the way in which the community has responded to this dilemma is to create what are called community schools, which are started by volunteers. A community school is a grassroots solution to the need for education in developing African countries. They teach the best they can, but usually without books, supplies, and training. These volunteers are individuals in the community who see a need and decide to start a school. The Government recognizes them. However, they do not receive any funding or support from the Government. In Ng’ombe, there are more than twenty of these types of schools just in that one community, so what you find is, the schools are supported only by what little the community can give.”
In Zambia, sixty-nine percent of the population survives on less than $1.25 a day. Therefore, they have nothing left in order to be able to support these schools. Whitney says, “The teachers of the community schools are typically volunteers, and typically untrained themselves. They just have a heart and a passion for the kids. Some have not finished high school and have no education, training as teachers, and no supplies. This is a grass-roots solution, a community-lead solution.”
Whitney has experienced first-hand the potential in which the community schools have. However, there is a large problem preventing the schools from reaching that potential. She says the schools lack the support in all areas. Because of that she decided to start a non-profit that would help support these existing schools by providing the skills and the resources they need in educating the children. That non-profit is called Impact One Initiative. Whitney says, “In the Western world we often take education for granted because we have so much access to it and it’s readily available. But in the developing world, even just one more year of schooling to these kids can make a vast difference in their lives. It (education), impacts every area of their lives. The more schooling they have, the healthier they are and the healthier their children are because they learn what drinking unclean water will do, they learn about HIV aids, they learn the importance of mosquito nets, which in turn can help protect them from malaria. Many deaths in
Zambia are from preventable diseases, so education really makes a difference in their health. The more they know, the healthier they are. Education has an enormous impact on their jobs, which in turn determines what kind of income they can make.”
When asked what she enjoys most about what she does Whitney answered, “The children in Africa grow up with a lot of responsibility and heavy burdens on them at a very early age because their family members die early and they often end up having to work and they don’t always get loved on all the time, so I love showing up in the community and holding babies, playing chase with the little kids and singing songs to them and letting them know they are truly loved.”
Whitney says there are 13 million people in Zambia with more than half of that number being children, but only fifty-three percent of the children finish 7th grade. “We really want to help change those statistics through Impact One Initiative and would like to connect people to the work, giving them ways in which they can learn more about who we are and how they can support the work. We want to create awareness, raise support and have people partner with us to where they can sponsor teachers and students in Zambia. There are a lot of opportunities for people to get involved.” Impact One Initiative will be having a fundraising/awareness event.
Impact One Initiative’s fundraising event is a Prime Rib Brunch.
Date and Time: October 20th from 10am to 3pm
Location: The Parlor – 3033 Lone Oak Road
Cost: $15 minimum donation
Details: Event includes a buffet meal with Prime Rib. They will have a silent auction with great items, including original African art. Guests can hear more about the work of Impact One Initiative in Zambia and how they can be a part. All proceeds go to the work in Zambia.
The following are some facts from Impact One Initiative’s website regarding the importance and need of education in Zambia.
• Education leads to improved health. With education, people are better prepared to prevent disease and to use health services effectively. For example, young people who have completed primary education are less than half as likely to contract HIV as those with little or no schooling.
• Education leads to higher wages and economic growth. In many poor countries, with each additional year of schooling, people earn 10% higher wages, which in turn contributes to national growth.
• Education leads to improved social responsibility and democracy. When children know their rights, they are better able to exercise them. With education, they can improve the living standards in their communities by advocating for improved sanitation, clean water, healthcare, and better governance, among many other things. Quality education has the ability to change lives in Zambia.
To learn more about Impact One Initiative visit them online at: