Home Bot CategoriesGlamCover Girl MAGGIE DOYNE – THE POWER OF LOVE & HOPE


by Ankita Jain

A journey that started as a 19-year-old high school student travelling the world volunteering eighteen years ago ended up as a lifetime affair working with children in Karnali, Nepal. Maggie Doyne, the Founder and CEO of BlinkNow, Co-Founder of Kopila Valley Sewa Samaj and the author of ‘Between the Mountain and the Sky’ is a woman deeply rooted into the work she does. While her work is focused on women and children in Nepal, she also speaks all over the world in the hope of inspiring others to start projects that will generate positive changes in the world.

BlinkNow traces its roots back to a simple story of human connection. Maggie Doyne cofounded Kopila with Top Malla in Surkhet with her life savings of US$5000. Now they are an international community of people focused on building a world where every child is safe, educated, and loved. From education, skills, health and self-sufficiency, Maggie works to empower children and women to be able to live with dignity and hope.

In a conversation with WOW’s Ankita Jain, Maggie talks about the importance of place-based learning, parenting rules, and her dreams for Surkhet. Excerpts from the interview:

What are the little things that bring you joy?

My morning coffee. Butterflies flying around our school. Waking up to the sound of birds. The Kopila valley children: their wiggly teeth, their laughter and giggles, the way they smell fresh out of the bath, and watching them interact with nature and the outdoors.

Do you have any special memories from your childhood?

I have many wonderful childhood memories. I am the middle daughter among three girls. I grew up dancing to music, playing lots of soccer, riding my bike around the neighborhood, and going on camping trips gazing up at the stars with my family around a campfire. Nature was a huge part of my childhood and I am trying to share that with the generation of children I am raising now.

Do you have a bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish before you turn 50?

My bucket list is a mile long, ever-changing and constantly being added too. I move a million miles a minute and need to keep a list on my phone called “Maggie’s ideas” to keep track. My brain works like that of a typical entrepreneur always wanting to think, build and create. I can be very impatient. Most of my bucket list dreams revolve around Karnali and Kopila Valley. There is so much opportunity here and so much change to bring about.

Your motto

My mantra every day is to learn and grow. I have always said that if I ever stopped learning I would probably stop doing this work. I believe in doing instead of talking about change and actions speaking louder than words; in starting small and focusing on slow organic change, one little step at a time.

From when you started to now, what have been some stark changes in Surkhet?

I love Surkhet so much. I consider it my hometown in Nepal. You’ll find me here riding my yellow mountain bike around and complaining about people burning their garbage and the last tree the municipality or my neighbour cut down. It’s become a major hub for development and things are changing really fast. Surkhet used to be a small trading post town and now it’s a bustling city getting paved over pretty fast. There are concrete houses popping up everywhere, land is being sold off by the meter for crazy price and our waterways becoming polluted. I am not anti-development. I love seeing people build homes and build lives for themselves and their families but I think we can do it in a way that is more ecological and conscientious. In creating Kopila Valley Green School, we hoped to model that.

As a fierce social worker and someone who has worked in the thick of things, what is the actual state of children and education in the country?

When we look at SDG targets, we are making some slow and steady progress, but we still have a very long ways to go and it will take all of us together, committed and working together towards change. For me, this next decade will be about building the public school system from within and making sure every child has access to quality education. This means highly trained teachers, strong curriculum implementation, improved infrastructure and most importantly, schools as the heart center of communities where families and public services all come together. I want to see schools with clean toilets, running water, localised school lunch programs, parent participation programs, and dedicated teachers from within the community itself. I also think we need to continue to commit to non-violence and getting kids in nature. Children can’t learn when using fear, shame, or cooped up in a cement box with fluorescent lights at a desk. We don’t need more obedient, disciplined children. We need children who can critically think, challenge and problem solve. There are genius children all over this country just waiting for their genius to be discovered and embraced and sparked with quality education.

What innovative approaches to education do you hope to see implemented, not just in Nepal but in all global education systems to improve the quality of education received by the next generation?

I am fascinated with place-based learning, getting kids outdoors, learning about the indigenous community and getting back in touch with our ecological roots. Are our kids interacting with local forests and the soil? Can they identify local birds and indigenous plants? Are they separating their waste and knowing where their food comes from? Are they learning how to challenge things, question, and innovate? I believe in the power of wonder, curiosity, and nature over the power of knowledge and stuffing information in and board exam scores.

How important do you feel measuring impact is within education, particularly innovative education methods that have not been tested?

Metrics and evaluation are important and it’s a core to what we do but this has to be balanced with looking at the whole child, their social emotional learning, and how they thrive and grow within their family and the community. At the end of the day, I want children who are living out a truly happy childhood. When children are given the gift of a childhood and having their basic human needs and rights met, everything else falls into place. I want to give children their childhoods back. Their innocence, joy, laughter, and growing the intrinsic goodness and human values that are already inside of them.

With how many staff did you start BlinkNow and what is the current number?

My amazing Co-founder Top Bahadur Malla and I started Kopila Valley from witnessing the Nepali experience across the border in India. We decided to come back and work on changing Karnali. We were a very small, all volunteer team pouring every single thing we had into building this. We actually never intended for it to be a big thing. We were committed to starting small. We named it Kopila intentionally. We started with just one child. Today we are a team over 140, almost entirely Nepali led and run. I love our team.

What is the one thing that you feel would make a significant contribution to better the lives of women?

This question is easy. Quality education all the way. Education changes everything. It always has and it always will.
Providing access to education for young girls in Nepal is still a significant issue. What solutions are you finding effective?
Just giving a girl a backpack and enrolling into KG isn’t enough. Think about all the things a child needs to thrive and grow within their community. A thriving and intact family with employment, healthy food and medical support, counseling services, safety and living without the threat of abuse, early marriage or violence. So, it’s not just about surface level change. It’s about addressing the deep-rooted issues holistically at the community level. You can’t just tackle one thing; you have to work with the whole system.

What are some of the conscious changes that you have made to help create a better tomorrow?

Focusing on children is huge for me. I believe that if a child has what they need to thrive and grow and be loved and nurtured, thousand other problems are automatically taken care of. But what a child needs to thrive and grow is also thousand things. Clean water, healthy food, a loving supportive family, books, sports, arts, music, nature, strong local government infrastructure, etc.

What is your hope for women in the future?

Our three core principals, values and vision are safety, education and love. This is my wish for every child, every woman and every human.

You aren’t afraid to speak your mind, but that might come with its own share of issues…

I made so many mistakes in my early twenties. I was so young in starting this work. There are times I wish I said more. There were times I wish I said less. But luckily, we always tried to fail forward and learn from mistakes and missteps. My memoir is brutally honest. I didn’t sleep for days before releasing it. There is so much truth telling in there but I think we need to tell the truth and look at the hard things so we can bring about change.

You have spoken about your struggles with mental health. What helps you?

Writing has always helped me in solving life’s biggest deepest hardest questions and struggles. I highly recommend keeping a journal and writing your feelings. Writing doesn’t give you answers but it simply helps you process. I also need nature, morning walks, and music when I am struggling. All humans do actually. Now that I am 36, I am also just trying to remember to go slow, things take the time they need. I used to be so impatient and want things to happen at the snap of a finger. Doing this work for so many years now I see that things do change and work out slowly over time. Not everything needs to be a rush. In fact, the most magical things in life are slow and quiet.

Being a mother of two, what are a few parenting rules that you abide by?

I am a biological mother of two and a mother to many other children as well. I believe in gentle parenting, loving children and letting them be who they are. I think they come into this planet pure and I just try to preserve what I can and let them live out their best childhoods. I want them to play, dance, sing, have meals around the table, live out their imaginations, and bask in the wonder of childhood. What if every decision we made, we asked ourselves, is this in the best interest of all our children? We can create a more child centered world and then we would find our way to peace.

What are some of the most important lessons that you have learnt from your journey so far?

Listen more than you talk. Ask questions. Look deeply at the things that break your heart and take one small step to change it. That one small step will lead you to one other small step and then another and before you know it, you’ll be on a journey with like minds.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment