In my continued effort to follow the breadcrumbs with Mission 227, I was connected to Matt Madeiro’s attempt to raise $25,000 to provide a school bus for students who attend the Kopila Valley Primary School in rural Nepal.
Some of the students of the school spend as many as FIVE HOURS DAILY walking to and from school.
Matt’s project is bold – no doubt. I will contribute to the bus project since it was recommended to me by a friend and I like Matt’s heart.
But the bigger story is how this school got started. 19-year-old Maggie Doyne decided to take a gap year between high school and college to see the world. She left New Jersey with her parents’ blessings and a backpack. Her life changed forever. Here’s an excerpt about Maggie from Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times article:
Maggie Doyne epitomizes this truth, for she began her philanthropic work as an 19-year-old financed by her baby-sitting savings. Yet she has somehow figured out how to run a sophisticated aid project in a remote area of Nepal.
Doyne grew up in New Jersey and excelled in high school — top grades, editor of the yearbook, three-sport varsity athlete — but felt burned out and unready to go to college when she graduated in 2005. So she took a “gap year” after high-school graduation and ended up in northern India, working with needy children.
It was an impoverished area, yet Nepali refugees were pouring in and sleeping on the bare ground, fleeing civil war in their country. Doyne couldn’t imagine what kind of conditions would be so bad that people would flee to where she was. So when the Maoist insurgency in Nepal calmed, she boarded a crammed public bus with a Nepali teenage girl to visit the girl’s hometown. They got off, 48 hours and several bus breakdowns later, at the end of the bus line. Then Doyne and her friend hiked for another three days to the girl’s home in the heartland of the Maoist insurgency.
It was a gorgeous Himalayan village, with a river running through it. But it was also ravaged by the war. Temples had been burned down, and the girl’s home had been converted into a rebel camp. Most children couldn’t afford school. In the cities, she had seen them working with hammers, breaking rocks into gravel to sell.
“The first little girl I met was Hema,” Doyne remembers. Then 6 or 7 years old (few children know their precise age), Hema spent her time breaking rocks and scavenging garbage and had no chance to go to school. But she was radiant and adorable and always greeted Doyne in Nepali with a warm, “Good morning, Sister!”
“Maybe I saw a piece of myself in her,” said Doyne, who decided to take Hema under her wing and pay for her education: “I knew I couldn’t do anything about a million orphans, but what if I started with this girl?” So she took Hema to school and paid $7 for the girl’s school fees and another $8 for a uniform so that she could enter kindergarten.
“It became addictive,” Doyne said. “I said, if I can help one girl, why not 5? Why not 10? And along with scholarships, they needed the most basic things: food, shelter, clothing.” Doyne found a ramshackle telephone “booth” — actually, a mud hut — where she could place an international call and telephoned her parents with a strange and urgent request: Can you wire me the money in my savings account? Doyne’s parents were concerned about the choices she was making and the delay in going to college, but it was her money — $5,000 made baby-sitting while in high school — and they could hear the passion in her voice over a crackly line.
“It was like being hit by a stun gun,” recalled Maggie’s mother, Nancy Doyne, a real estate agent. “But there’s no stopping that child.” Nancy Doyne worried about her daughter and had trouble sleeping when she thought of the perils of rural Nepal — but she also knew: “I had to cut my string to that child and let her fly.” So the parents sent Maggie the money, and she bought land and began working with villagers to build a shelter for orphans.
Doyne returned to New Jersey and began to take odd jobs and proselytize for her shelter. People in her hometown thought that she was nuts, but in a benign way — and they wrote checks. After a few months, when Doyne had raised $25,000, she moved back to Nepal to oversee construction of the shelter, called the Kopila Valley Children’s Home.
After the orphanage, Maggie started a school. Over 300 students currently attend Maggie’s school. Maggie is now 25 years old. She hasn’t even attended college yet! As Kristof writes later in the NY Times article, she’ll probably earn an honorary doctorate degree before she earns a bachelor’s degree!
If you ever think to yourself, “Who am I to make a difference in the world?” Think about Maggie. A high school graduate who used baby-sitting money to change the world for hundreds of kids!! That is being different to make a difference!
What an incredible young lady! Let’s get these kids a school bus! Here’s the link to Matt’s site.
Learn more about Maggie and her school at blinknow.org.
Read Nicholas Kristof’s entire article.
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