When asked to think of someone inspiring, Maggie Doyne immediately comes to mind. I first saw Doyne speak at an international student leadership conference in 2014 organized by the charity Operation Smile. Safe to say she left a lasting impression on me and she has continued to make a further global impact and change thousands of lives since then.
In 2015, Maggie received the CNN Hero of the Year Award. She earned this title for many reasons including that she is an adoptive mother to 50 Nepali Children; she has built a school; a women’s center; a children’s center and much more all through her foundation called BlinkNow. You might be thinking how on earth can one person achieve all this? I will never forget Maggie sharing the words she told herself when she was starting out. She said, if she could just change the life of one single child that she would be making a difference. After changing that one life, I suppose she just kept going.
“If we all had the attitude that we can do anything, that we can be anything, if we follow our dreams and our hearts…we can change the world.” – Maggie Doyne
How it all Began
Maggie’s journey began when she was 18 years old backpacking through Nepal, it was in a remote village at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal that her gap year experience turned into a life-long commitment. She spent $5,000 of her savings (earned from babysitting) to buy a piece of land, with this she built the region’s first ever children’s home – Kopila Valley. By 23, she was raising 220 children and officially mother to 50 who ranged in age from newborns to teenagers. (to check out how fun a typical day in the Doyne household is, watch the videos in the Learn More, Do More section) .
‘We don’t say the word orphanage. It is a home and we are a family – our model is Love’ – Maggie Doyne
The BlinkNow Foundation
Kopila Valley was born and soon blossomed into BlinkNow, a nonprofit foundation serving an ever-growing, ever-inspiring community in Surkhet, Nepal. The Blink Now Foundation was founded in 2007. Blink Now encompasses a school, children’s home, a girls’ safe house, a women’s center, and health clinic. It initially began as she was not satisfied with the education her children were receiving. The many children who now receive an education through BlinkNow are the first literate generation of their families. Over 400 children attend from nursery through to 12th grade enjoying nutritious meals, access to basic medical and dental care and take part in after school activities which include sports, music, cooking class, dance and crafts. It is one of the greenest schools in the world and the pupils, who are taught in both English & Nepali, rank in the top 1% of the country.
‘And then started my addiction of enrolling kids into school. Education is the way in which we can stop poverty and violence.’ – Maggie Doyne
How BlinkNow is fighting COVID-19 in Nepal
Despite everything Doyne has done, her amazing achievements, busy schedule and raising 50 children, she may need help from us now more than ever. The impact of COVID-19 in Nepal is wreaking devastating effects due to lack of supplies, PPE, test kits, food and water. One of the things that Maggie has been frequently updating us on through her Instagram is the migrant worker crisis and how she is helping support returning Nepali workers from India. Many are returning home after losing their factory jobs, a common way of supporting family back home. BlinkNow has adapted to this and have been functioning as a food bank along with launching a virtual campaign to raise awareness on this issue. But they still need help!
“IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, WE CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.” –THE BLINKNOW FOUNDATION
When accepting the CNN Hero of the Year award Doyne said “And to all of you in this room and who are watching, please, please remember that we have the power to create the world that we want to live in, just as we want it.’ It is so important that we remember this and utilize the skills that we have at hand to do what we can. Doyne says we often think of the things we do not have rather than the things we do have. ‘Oh, if I had more money, if I was more established, if I had a PhD. But what if everything you had was everything you have right now. Your body, your mind and that sense of I can do anything.’ Let us start, today, utilizing the skills that we know we have in us, apply some of Doyne’s inspirational thinking and work to create the world we want to live in.
Learn More Do More
- The BlinkNow Foundation – https://blinknow.org/
- Maggie Doyne’s Instagram for updates – @maggiedoyne
- One of Maggie’s first Seminars – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Xv9h5nBls
- Maggie Doyne: CNN Hero’s Tribute – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0XTX-e_E94
- A more recent Seminar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0EPA3bEdMg
- Operation Smile: International Medical Charity that provided hundreds of thousands of free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who could not otherwise access or afford medical care. Also hold International Student Leadership Conferences every Summer. https://operationsmile.ie/about/about-us/