The field of philanthropy, earlier associated primarily with rich retirees and big legacy foundations, has in recent decades been increasingly dominated by younger generations and their zeal to overcome socio-economic challenges across the world.
Among these dynamic young philanthropists, an American-born Maggie Doyne and her co-owned ‘Blink Now Foundation’ shines brightly for their over a decade-long dedicated service to provide education and homes for the orphans and for empowering women in Surkhet, Nepal.
Maggie Doyne’s work has received worldwide recognition and has been featured in several magazines. She has received numerous awards globally including CNN’s 2015 ‘Hero of the Year’.
She has also been honored as a Forbes ‘Top 30 under 30’ Social Entrepreneur and also by the Dalai Lama as the Unsung Hero of Compassion.
Mary Poppins for the destitute
Maggie’s inspiring story began almost 12 years ago in Mendham, New Jersey, when at the age of 18 she visited Nepal during her gap year from college. In Nepal, she was devastated on seeing the plight of poor children, where youngsters have to forego schooling to earn a livelihood.
Maggie decided to sponsor a few kids for schooling but soon felt she needed to do more. She decided to buy a piece of land in Nepal, where she put all her savings to build a children’s home.
She even raised funds for it through a not-for-profit trust named BlinkNow, which she co-founded with a Nepalese named Tope Malla. Overtime, BlinkNow expanded considerably and currently supports many Kopila Valley projects in Nepal.
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Maggie Doyne shed light on the extraordinary work she has done and her future plans. Talking about her work, Maggie said: “It all started in 2007 with a child named Hima. I thought if we can help one child, why not 10?”
As Maggie started to sponsor poor Nepalese kids’ education, she felt she could do more. She elaborates, “My co-founder Tope Malla and I started our children’s home and school because we wanted to empower them through education. Along with education, we saw that some of the children we encountered needed the most basic things like food, shelter and clothing.”
Although Maggie bought land with her own money, she needed to raise more funds in order to build Children’s home on that land. Therefore, she and Tope Malla started a not-for-profit trust named BlinkNow in 2007 to support the children’s home and also to encourage young people from abroad to volunteer.
The name BlinkNow was given by Maggie as she believes that in a blink of an eye, we all can make a difference. The Kopila Valley of Children’s Home started in 2008. Initially, it housed only five children, but soon grew and it currently houses a little under 50 children.
When asked to explain further about the children’s home, Maggie said, “It is such a special home filled with love, constant laughter and tons of music. We are lucky to work with two amazing caregivers named Sachyam and Aakriti and several other ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ who care for the home and help the children.”
Maggie explains the daily routine of her kids as follows: “All children have breakfast together in the mornings before they leave for school and they come home after school and have their snacks here after which they start their study or have their quiet reading time. After dinner, they gather for a nightly family meeting called ‘satsung’, which is a time for songs, dance and talks about the week. Then it is bedtime for the little ones and reading time for the older children.”
Philanthropy at work
The BlinkNow foundation helped her to establish the Kopila Valley School in 2010, the Kopila Health Clinic in 2011, Kopila Valley Women’s Centre in 2013 and Big Sisters’ Home in 2017.
Maggie clarified that the BlinkNow foundation fulfilled its mission by providing financial support and management to all the Kopila Valley projects and that they sustain their organisation through grants and donations from generous supporters.
All these projects are 90 percent staffed by Nepalese and these projects are worked in close collaboration with the Nepali government especially the local government and social workers of their community.
The Kopila Valley School serves more than 370 children coming from Surkhet and neighboring areas and these kids also have access to daily nutritious meal and health care.
Speaking about the future of these kids after their schooling, Maggie elaborates, “We run a ‘Futures’ Program’ that aims to prepare our young adults for life after Kopila Valley School. This includes college readiness, technical and vocational skills, training life skills, conducting workshops and career guidance.”
She further said that they currently had graduates who were continuing their higher studies at colleges in Nepal and other countries.
On enquiring about the latest Kopila Valley Project, Maggie replies, “Our biggest project right now is the new Kopila Valley School Campus. It is the campus of our dreams consisting of a preschool, middle school, high school, library, computer lab, science lab, administration office, medical/counselor centre, cafeteria and an auditorium.”
Maggie and her team wanted to create a green and sustainable campus which will last for years to come. She explained that their new campus which will be ready in early 2019 will use biogas, rainwater and solar power and will also include a farm for growing food and raising animals.
She hopes that this campus will provide a model for sustainable and education based projects across the globe. Maggie’s out-of-ordinary life portrays generosity, selflessness and love for the underprivileged people especially orphans.
When enquired about her 10 years of experience in Nepal amidst these kids, Maggie asserts that she is very proud and grateful for all that they had accomplished so far for these kids in Nepal but added that there is still more work to be done.
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