Tag Archives: Blink Now
Maggie’s story and the path she decided to take early on in life, has touched the hearts of people around the globe and changed the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children.
Maggie was a high school classmate of my daughter, Erin. After graduation, Maggie decided to take a gap year and travel before heading off to college. Eventually, she ended up in Nepal and saw a country devastated by 10 years of civil war and thousands of orphaned children left in its wake. She used her babysitting savings to buy property and build a home for herself and orphaned children – she was 19 years old. Maggie has 50 children now, has built a primary school for 250 kids and is currently building a high school.
When Maggie accepted the Hero of the Year award the other night, she 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”. She’s done just that and has inspired countless others, to do the same. She inspired my daughter and I to seek out other individuals all over the world who were creating positive change and to make a filmabout them, with the hopes it would inspire others to make a difference.
Imagine if we all thought like Maggie and believed we all have the power to create the world that we want to live in. The fact is we do have that power. It starts with the little things we can do – in our own lives, in our family’s lives and in our communities. Small things have a way of growing into big things. When you educate one child, you change a life that has the potential to change other lives.
Maggie, you continue to inspire me. You are a bright light in a troubled world and a beacon of hope. Congratulations for this well deserved honor.
If you’d like to watch Opening Our Eyes, a film about Maggie and other change makers, you can view it here.
My daughter, Erin and I started this blog, when we first embarked on our journey around the world, creating a film about individuals making positive change. It was then, and continues to be a journey that the two of us share intimately – together as mother and daughter. Our trip was filled with memorable experiences as we circled the globe. Our film has been a journey for our audiences, who were motivated to “do something”, inspired by individuals like Maggie Doyne who has changed the lives of thousands of children. We formed a very strong bond through this experience, and that has become be part of our legacy.
The great news is that Erin is getting married next month, to a wonderful young man named Bryan. My husband and I feel blessed and happy that Erin and Bryan have found one another to experience life together – the joys and sorrows and everything in between. And so another chapter begins in her life and ours.
As I look back, my most cherished memories are about Erin. It’s usually the little moments that resonate the most – like the time she greeted me at the airport after I had been away for a long period of time. She was probably about 5 or 6 years old, and she ran up to me, arms outstretched with exuberance and joy, laughing as she called out “Mommy!” after spotting me in the crowd. I’ll never forget that moment. It was pure love.
Love and relationships are what makes a life worth living. These days, it is easy to lose sight of the simplicity of that thought, because we are all distracted by other things in the consumer culture we live in. I am grateful that Erin and I took time in our lives when we did, to make time for one another. I know that both of us were incredibly humbled by our journey and witnessing what the power of “love” could do, on a global scale. We formed a bond and we will have that bond forever.
So I say to Erin, “Be happy on your wedding day and all the other days that you and Bryan get to spend together. Cherish each moment. It’s what life is made up of – every precious one.”
Some of our fondest memories from our journey were from our visit with Maggie Doyne and her children in Surkhet, Nepal. All the kids were such a joy to be around. This young boy at the Kopila Valley Primary School glowed with enthusiasm.
The journey is over and the memories have begun to fade. But the legacy lives on in the film my daughter and I created, when we set out some 3 years ago seeking individuals who were making our world a better place. And indeed, we found many people – ordinary people who were doing extraordinary things. And every one of these people had one thing in common – they had found their purpose in helping others. The more they gave – the more they got back in return. But none of them “gave” with the idea of getting something in return. It wasn’t about getting money, favors, recognition, or other ego related pursuits, it was about caring for their “fellow man”.
I think that the biggest reward for me in making this film, was sharing that experience with my daughter. She was fortunate to have been born and raised in a beautiful and privileged part of the world and I wanted her to have a greater global perspective. It’s almost impossible to “care” for your “fellow man” when if you don’t have an understanding of who they really are. We all hear about conflict and our “differences” that seem to keep our world divided, but for many of us it’s too distant and outside our consciousness and the confines of our own daily reality.
The truth is the world seems like it’s gotten a whole lot smaller since I was my daughter’s age. It’s amazing how technology has connected us all. What’s even more amazing is the “reach” each one of us has. It’s not very difficult for “one person” to get their message out these days – globally – and instantaneously. Think of the power in that. I realized that first hand with this film and how it has connected people all over the world. I am grateful that I live in an age, when I am able to use my craft, to spread the message about the power each one of us has in making a positive difference in our world – the “power of one”.
But it starts with each one of us, in our own communities and with the people we have relationships with. We can all be a little more thoughtful of how we treat the people we know – that is if we can get outside our own egos. It may be as simple as stopping ourselves before we say something, or do something that could affect someone negatively and ask, “how would I feel if I was on the receiving end?” It’s the little things that we all do and say, that can affect someone, either positively or negatively and that in turn goes on to affect more people and it starts to ripple through “community” and beyond.
I think we all need a reminder from time to time that it serves no purpose to dismiss or treat anyone with disregard, anger or contempt. It only serves to make us bitter inside. I have learned that lesson more than once in my life. The older I get, the more I realize that I’d rather harbor thoughts of love, kindness and forgiveness than hold onto negative ones. Ultimately, life’s too short to focus on the negative.
We each have our own perspective and we each get to choose the lens we see “life” through. I choose a lens of love, respect and caring. I haven’t always chosen that lens and no doubt there will be times in my life, going forward, when I will falter and start seeing life through the wrong lens. Please, let me know when I do.
I live in a small town in semi-rural New Jersey. Well at least it was semi-rural when I moved here 17 years ago. Brookside is a historic town dating back to 1749 before there was a United States of America. It’s a quiet little town with less people living here now than there were during the American Revolution. This area was pro American and General Washington had his headquarters just 5 miles away in Morristown.
Every year, the big event in town is the Fourth of July Parade. I have seen every one since moving here in 1994 – except last year when Erin and I were in Nepal. It’s a quaint little parade with boys scouts and girl scouts, fire trucks and tractors, family floats and even a mini parade within the parade – “the pooch parade”. Folks sit along the sides of East Main Street or watch from their porches as their friends and neighbors pass by in celebration of our nation’s independence.
It’s the kind of community affair that is slowly disappearing from America. It’s one day where we all slow down and re-connect with one another. Each year we honor a Community Service recipient. This year the award went to Maggie Doyne. Brookside is in Mendham Township, so technically, Maggie isn’t a resident because she lives in the next town over, Mendham Borough. Mendham Township actually circles around the borough like a donut and the two towns share the same high school. That’s how Maggie and Erin know each other, they were in the same graduating class. But Maggie has become our local hero and we all claim her as our own.
In 2005, Erin went off to college like most kids did in her graduating class. Maggie took a gap year that turned into a different life’s path for her. And what a path she has taken. It’s amazing what Maggie has done at such a young age. She is twenty four years old and has built a home for 35 orphaned children whom she lives with in Nepal, as well as built a school for over 250 children. She has not only been an inspiration for our film project, but has motivated countless others who have heard her story.
Watch Video of Maggie in July 4th Parade
Maggie July 4th USA For Web
I put together a few clips of Maggie at the last Monday’s parade. I’d like her children to see Maggie riding in the convertible, throwing candy to children in the little town that she grew up in – on the Fourth of July in the USA.
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.