Maggie Doyne used her babysitting savings to change the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children. Last week she was named the 2015 CNN Hero of the Year at an awards ceremony in New York. TEDxBrussels caught up with Doyne to unveil the motivation behind her work at BlinkNow and to share her belief that we all have the power of creating “the world that we want to live in, just as we want it.”
1/ What's the motivation behind your work?
I am motivated by the power of a child who is educated and cared for. When I first came to Nepal I saw hundreds of children struggling to make money for their families and struggling to survive in Nepal’s poverty stricken villages. At 18, I asked myself, what have we done as a human family to have our children living this way? I knew the only way to break the cycle was through education.
I’ve always believed that the world will change when our children and our women are educated. Families have less children, create happier homes and raise more educated generations. Disease and poverty levels also decrease as a result. Communities and villages change for the better.
It’s been 11 years since my journey began, and I’m now a mother to 50 children ranging in age from 17 months to 18 years old. Our school down the road educates 400 children from all over the region. These children motivate me every day. I’ve seen how they’ve transformed into confident, intelligent and compassionate individuals who care for one another. These changes were made through education, love and support. I have so much faith that they will grow up to bring even more positive changes to their community, country, and world.
2/ What do you focus on and why?
I focus on one child at a time. I learned early on that it’s important to work in small steps. When you look at the state of our human family, it can be overwhelming to see how many problems we face, but if you think in small steps, change can be much more manageable. When I first came to Nepal, I supported the education of one child, I saw the impact it had and I continued my work with one child at a time.
3/ Could you share with us a success story?
There are so many! Hima, one of the first children I met in Nepal, is now in the 6th grade at Kopila Valley and doing great! She still lives with her mom and brother in Surkhet. Her mother is employed at the women's center and runs a cookie business that Hima loves to help with.
Each child has a unique and inspiring story. Some of the older students are now living on their own and supporting themselves, other children are developing interests in everything from seismology to technology and gardening. They are all inspiring and I love to watch them explore their passions.
4/ If there is something you would like the humanity of the Deeper Future to learn from your project what would that be?
I want everyone to know that they have the power to improve our world. People always think of all the things they don’t have instead of the things they do. They say, I could do that if I had more money, I could do that if I had my master’s degree, if I had my PHD or after I’m settled and more established. But what if everything you needed was everything you have right now? The beauty of all of us is that we have talents and we have gifts. When we pursue our passions and direct them towards the greater good, the world will change.
I want my project to be a model for what other people can do around the world. I was just one girl who helped another girl in a country devastated by poverty and war. If you are educated and free, empowered and safe, use your strength, your power and your gifts to help the rest of our human family.
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Interview by Bibbi Abruzzini.