We are visiting Maggie Doyne and her 30 children in Surkhet, Nepal. Maggie and Erin went to high school together in Mendham, NJ, an affluent, homogenous town in the pretty part of New Jersey, with rolling hills and an abundance of beautiful open space. It’s kind of like a little idyllic bubble and a great place to grow up.
Maggie is a world away from Mendham, but has created a very special bubble in Nepal. After graduating from high school she opted to take a gap year instead of heading straight to college. She traveled a bit and then volunteered in an orphanage in India. It was there she became aware of the orphaned Nepalese children displaced by civil war. She knew in her heart that she needed to do something for them and she did with her Blink Now Foundation.
That was about 5 years ago. She’s now 23 years old and has built a home for 30 children and is currently in the process of constructing a school. Not just any school or a one room type of affair, but a school that stretches out into 2 wings and an eating and communal hall where all the children can gather for performances and other events. There are four classrooms already in use and she has had to turn many local children away who wanted to attend school in this special place and recognized the importance of an education.
We’ve been with Maggie now for about 5 days and she never seems to stop. When she’s not overseeing the construction projects, she’s teaching, running errands in town, doing laundry at the local spring and attending to the children. Not just her 30 children that live in her home but the 200 plus children that attend her school. In the evenings all the children in her home gather around for prayer and song – the family meeting. The children run in age from 2 to 13 years old and it has been a joy to be with them. Their background stories are sad and difficult to hear, but to see them now, so happy and compassionate for one another is a testament to Maggie’s love.
Maggie is full of love and is passionate in her desire to see that children get the joy and happiness out of childhood that she had growing up. These children don’t have the toys and games and fancy clothes that many children in the US have. Some days there isn’t running water or electricity making it even more difficult. The children come down with illnesses that simply don’t exist anymore in America but Maggie has given them a life of hope. She’s making sure they get an abundance of love, the food and clothing they need and a good education. Not the education that exists in the Nepalese government schools, that are based on rote recitation and frequent beatings when a child does something wrong, but a good education and with that a lifetime love of learning.
Each day I’m here, I’m more amazed at what Maggie has achieved and to think she is just 23 years old. She has an amazing spirit and has transformed this community. She travels back to the US a couple times of year to speak to others about what they can do to make a positive difference in the world and in the process has inspired others to realize their dreams.
Today’s a good day because today Maggie and the kids get a car. Up until now, she needed to either walk or ride her scooter into town to get supplies or take a sick child to the doctor or hospital. I can’t wait to see the excitement in the kids’ faces when she drives up to the house. And as soon as I’m able to upload photos – I will. Life is a bit slower here and along with that the Internet. But I’m not complaining – I feel blessed and at peace after spending time with Maggie and her kids. Like Maggie says – “things happen for a reason” and “things happen when they’re meant to happen”. And today was the day they were meant to get their new car.