The end of high school opens up a world of possibilities for graduates. Some choose to go straight to uni, others go into work, and many decide to travel. Maggie Doyne was one of those young backpackers we now see all over the world, but her story’s a little different to most.
After trekking through the Himalayas and walking along streets in some of Nepal’s most poverty-stricken villages, Doyne called her parents in New Jersey and asked them to send her US$5000 in savings so she could help the children she’d met in Nepal.
“For the first time in my life I understood what it meant to be an orphan and what it looked like to live in a post-war ravaged country,” Doyne says the video (above).
So she used her money – saved up from years of babysitting – to buy land and set up the Kopila Valley Children’s Home. With the support of locals, fellow volunteer friend Tope Bahadur Malla, and people from her hometown in the US, the building grew into a home for over 50 local children.
The experience inspired Doyne and Malla to co-found the BlinkNow Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the children and women of Kopila Valley.
“We believe we are one human family and that in the blink of an eye, we can change the world,” the website says.
In 2010, the team opened the Kopila Valley School for children that wouldn’t normally have access to education. They now have a health clinic, women’s centre and sustainability program to create “a beautiful and enduring environment in which to live – and a more sustainable future for our children.”
Construction is now underway for a high school, and the team at BlinkNow has grown to include teachers, counsellors, medical professionals, cooks, volunteers and many others dedicated to creating a better life in Surket, Nepal.
“At BlinkNow, we believe that every child in the world should be provided with the most basic needs and rights – a safe home, medical care, an education and love,” the team says on its website.
“And with that, they will grow up to be adults with a social conscience and the skills to continue our mission of ending the cycles of poverty and violence in our world. We believe that in the blink of an eye, we can all make a difference.”
Doyne’s story has recently been put in the public eye after she was nominated as a finalist for the CNN Heroes program. She says she has taken a very different path to most people she knows, but that it is what she’s meant to do.
“I think we all have something really special to give. And I’ve found that, and I feel it’s my obligation now to teach young people that they can do the same thing,” she says.