American philanthropist Maggie Doyne is proof unconditional love really can effect change in our world. With the help of locals, as well as people from all over the world, she has changed the lives of hundreds of impoverished women and children in Surkhet, Nepal by opening the Kopila Valley School and Children’s Home. In addition to helping them feel empowered with quality education, she is making them feel sheltered and loved.
It started in 2005 when Maggie took a gap year after her high school graduation. Not sure about what she wanted to do in her life, she decided to go on a solo trip to discover herself. During that trip, she spent time volunteering at a children’s home in northern India. While there she befriended a group of Nepali refugees and went with them to visit their home village.
On reaching the village, she met six-year-old Hima, who was barely surviving on the few rupees she earned by breaking stones in a dry riverbed and selling them. She was shocked to see the level of poverty and the harsh conditions in which the children were living. Doyne helped Hima go to school, paying for her tuition, uniform, and books, and expanded her efforts to help more children.
According to Doyne, “Seeing children working all day to support their families really struck a cord. I understood the value of education, and I wanted these children to receive the confidence, skills and structure I gained through my schooling as an adolescent. My instinct told me to help one child. So I did. I paid for one child’s tuition, books and uniform. Later I helped another, and then another. I continued on this path, helping one child at a time. Eventually, through donations, grants and the Nepali community, my project grew. “
Doyne used $5,000 she had saved from babysitting to buy a land and built a children’s care for the orphaned children and gradually became a legal guardian to more than 30 children.
Kopila Valley, Doyne’s project funded by The BlinkNow Foundation, encompasses a school, a children’s home, a women’s center, a girls’ safe house, and a health clinic with a focus in sustainability.
Doyne opened the Kopila Valley School with 220 students in 2010.
The curriculum supplements the Nepali national curriculum with additional teaching and learning in literature, art, theater, music and sports. As of 2018, over 380 children attend Kopila Valley School.
The Kopila Valley Women’s Center opened in 2013 providing literacy and vocational skills training to the women of Surkhet. The Women’s Center also runs a storefront, that sells goods to the local community
In 2011, the Kopila Valley Health Clinic opened offering essential primary care, dental care, and mental health services to the Kopila Valley children and staff, as well as the larger Surkhet community.
The Kopila Valley Big Sisters’ Home opened in 2017 in order to provide a safe environment for the most at-risk young female students of Kopila Valley School. It is home to 10 girls and offers a community of counseling, love, and support as they prepare to reintegrate with their biological families or guardians.
” At 18 I wasn’t the wisest, the wealthiest, or the expert on orphan care and education but, I knew that I found a cause I was passionate about. We constantly tell ourselves about the things we will do when we have more money, when we receive that PHD, or when we settle down… But what if everything we need is everything we have right now? We all have the power and the ability to generate change. It’s your duty to find your passion and, when you do, use your skills and talents to improve our world…no matter how far it takes you off the beaten path. “, Doyne spoke on an interview.