It’s quite rare to see regular (read: Not crazy rich) people taking those efforts on a minimal amount of money, doing their best to right some of the wrongs in the more unfortunate parts of the world with whatever they have. Maggie Doyne, from New Jersey, USA, would certainly qualify to be one of those rare philanthropists, if we look at everything she has done in a remote village in Nepal - Surkhet - in the last twelve years.
Having first visited Nepal when she was just 18 years old some twelve years ago during her gap year in college, Maggie was appalled by the lifestyle choices the people in the remote mountain kingdom had to make. Where children would usually spend their time studying in other “normal” parts of the world, conditions were so bad here that many younger ones had to pick up some kind of occupation to support their families instead of completing their education, on top of everyday problems living in the middle of nowhere comes with.
The populace was also coming to grips with the recently-concluded and bloody Nepalese civil war, which had taken a serious toll on the country’s economy and day-to-day industry.
She went ahead and bought a small piece of land in the area in 2007, with the aim of providing education, healthcare and other amenities to the residents of Kopila Valley. She started with a kid name Hima at first, but very soon, the project expanded into something much bigger than a piece of land meant to rehabilitate local populations. She soon setup BlinkNow; a non-profit trust aimed at raising money for her local efforts, as it soon got way out of her hands to manage on her own.
The property has since grown to house a healthcare centre, a children’s school, a women’s centre, and a children’s shelter for underprivileged kids in the area; it’s almost a village in itself. The Kopila Valley School now educates about 370 children from the surrounding village and provides healthy meals and free healthcare. The school also runs a Futures program, where they educate the younger generation in skills necessary for the rest of their lives, and not just regular school stuff that’s often no use for anyone anyway.
As of her plans after over a decade of efforts in the area, she now aims to turn the school into a multi-facility area complete with laboratories, sports grounds and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, though looking at how she’s not a super rich person, it looks like it’ll be a while till her dream is fully realised. She’s also focussed at encouraging environmentally sustainable practices at her facilities in the near future to make sure her carbon footprint is kept at a minimum.
Of course, she has been criticised by many in the local media for being a trope ‘white saviour’, though we feel that’s more frustration about us not being able to do something about problems closer to home than anything else.
Maggie and her foundation have been globally praised for their efforts, and have received offers to replicate their model at several places in the world. For now, thought, they’re focussed on further improving things for the inhabitants of Surkhet, Nepal.
Learn more about BlinkNow and contribute here.