By Amber Williams
[Doyne pictured with children of Nepal. Photo courtesy of wesb.com]
Maggie Doyne was only 18-years-old when she decided to take a gap year after high school to travel. Little did she know that she would soon be changing hundreds of lives in Nepal.
“I started in the South Pacific Islands and later traveled to North Eastern India for an internship,” said Doyne. “That’s where I met a community of Nepalese refugees. They are the reason I eventually traveled to Nepal.”
Using $5,000 of her babysitting money – the entirety of her life savings – Doyne, along with the BlinkNow Foundation, decided to build a safe, clean home for the suffering children. Two years later, the Kopila Valley School was built making the students that attended the first of many in their families to receive an education.
“I always wanted the school and the home to be a place where children felt safe and cared for,” said Doyne. “Kopila Valley Home functions like any other home – we are a family…I always wanted Kopila Valley School to be a pillar for our community. We have an amazing staff of Nepali educators and the school provides an education to the children of Surkhet and surrounding regions.”
The school has 350 enrolled students. Although it will likely have the same amount, there are plans for expansion.
“We are currently working to build a new campus to replace the original one…it will be the greenest, most sustainable school in the developing world. Our goal is for the new campus to serve as a model and example for community supported grass roots educations based movements around the world,” said Doyne.
But the home and school were not the only new addition to the community.
Doyne and the rest of her team also started a health clinic and a women’s center for the Kopila Valley community. Women were able to receive the aid they sought out while empowering themselves as individuals.
“It has been amazing for the entire community,” said Doyne. “The health clinic provides nutrition, health education and preventative care to our community. The women’s center empowers women with the valuable skills they need to gain economic independence.”
Although Doyne is busy with the children of Kopila Valley community, there have been overwhelming moments in her journey.
“There has been so many that has overwhelmed me, but I am motivated by my children. I always want to be the person they can count on – the person will be a constant in their lives,” said Doyne.
Doyne’s unrelenting motivation has led to several awards – including recently been named CNN’s Hero of the Year 2015 Award. As she was honored for her work in Nepal; however, she finds that there were other factors that led her to win.
“It wasn’t easy, but our wonderful community of supporters rallied behind us,” said Doyne. There is no way I could have done any of this without the support of my co-founder, the Nepali community, the educators at the school, the staff at BlinkNow and all of my friends and family.”
Doyne’s impact does not only lie with the children of Kopila Valley – her work has been an impact on her workers and herself.
Patty Breech, Director of Operations, Nepal, learned standing up for what you believe in in life, even if it is the smallest of things.
“Maggie has taught me that it’s okay to rock the boat and speak up for what you want,” said Patty Breech, Director of Operations, Nepal. “She has taught me the importance of acting the way I want to act, and not accepting things if they’re not the way I want them to be. This has had an effect on even the very small things in my life – like asking for a second helping of dessert or changing a plane ticket if I want to stay longer somewhere!”
“My work in Nepal has changed my life in such an incredible way,” said Doyne. “We all have talents and gifts, and establishing Kopila Valley School as home just happened to be mine…Kopila Valley is my little slice of heaven.”
For any young person with big dreams hoping for life-changing outcomes, Doyne believes in the power to change the world.
“It’s important to focus on one thing at a time,” said Doyne. I focused on one child at a time. Our human family faces an overwhelming amount of obstacles on a daily basis. It can be daunting when you look at the big picture, but it’s different when you make small changes. Change the world in the blink of an eye.”
Doyne will be receiving her honorary degree at St. Bonaventure today at 4 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. She will be recognized at the December ceremony, as well. The event is open to the public.