Friday, October 5, 2007

“This is my path.”

Although I moved from New Jersey to Virginia almost ten years ago, I still take time to read the local newspapers online. I came across this story in one of them, and felt moved to spread the word.

Read on:

Young Mendham woman building orphanage in Nepal

By BELISA SILVA, Staff Writer

MENDHAM – Maggie Doyne, 20, has taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference for her, for poverty-stricken children in India and Nepal and, most importantly, for the world in which she lives.

Doyne, a tiny blonde, cherubic girl who formerly lived in the borough, seems an unlikely person to have started her own orphanage in one of the most impoverished war-torn countries of the world.

She has also just registered her own non-government organization (NGO) called “Blink Now,” which is a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to providing destitute children with a self-sustainable, living environment, complete with food, water, medical care and education.

“The children are so beautiful and funny,” said Doyne, the daughter of Nancy and Steve Doyne of North Linden Lane. “You can’t help but fall in love with them.”

The 2005 West Morris Mendham High School graduate said that instead of choosing to attend a university, like her sisters, Kate, 23, and Libby, 19, and friends, she was inspired to take an uncommon path.

“When applying for college something didn’t feel right,” she said. “I decided I wanted to learn through traveling.”

Doyne then traveled with an organization called LEAPNOW to the South Pacific. LEAPNOW is a private organization that offers alternative travel and internships to college-age youths.While serving for a year with LEAPNOW, she said she got a first taste of her undeniable desire to see the world and help others along the way.

Relocates To India
After making contacts through LEAPNOW, Doyne began working at a small children’s home in Rishikesh, India, known as “Ramana’s Garden, in December 2005.”

While there, Doyne said she became frighteningly aware of the poverty plaguing parts of the world.

“Children who belong to a low caste would just be on the streets, begging or working,” Doyne said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Doyne said that during her two-years working at the orphanage, she found herself in some intense situations.

“Sometimes in India you see a midwife abandon a woman giving birth because she thinks the baby or the mother might not make it,” Doyne said. “They don’t want the bad karma.”

Doyne said she actually had to step in and deliver a breeched baby after the woman’s mid wife fled.

“I got there and the mom was alone on the floor, covered in blood and flies,” Doyne said. “It was scary, but the baby and the mother were OK.”

While at the orphanage, Doyne said a teenager who had been living there, asked Doyne to accompany her on a trip to her home village, located near Surkhet, Nepal.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been racked by a bloody civil war since 1997. About 50,000 children, including orphans, ex-child soldiers and victims of brutal sex trafficking, were left to fend for themselves. Doyne said about 27 percent of Nepalese children are sold into child labor.

The journey from India to Nepal took the two girls two full days.

“Once we got there, I was getting stared at and babies were crying in terror because they had never seen a white face before,” Doyne said. “But, I was never scared and I never felt unsafe.”

Doyne said the displaced, impoverished children were scattered along the streets.

“It was devastating,” Doyne said. “There were so many small children in need of medical care, food, water, shelter and schooling.”

Rather than returning home to the comforts of her Mendham home, Doyne decided to do something that would forever change her life and the lives of others.

“I bought a piece of land near the village and decided I would build an orphanage,” Doyne said.

Taking the few thousand dollars she had saved from summer jobs, babysitting and pet-sitting, Doyne purchased bricks and cement and hired Nepalese workers to begin construction on the design she had created.

“I am naming the center ‘Kopila Valley,’ “ Doyne said. “Kopila is a Nepalese word for bud, and I think it is perfect because I will be working with children, who are still developing into what they will become.”

Doyne said she wants the center to serve as a comfortable, brightly colored safe home for children who have no place to lay their heads at night.

Eventually, Doyne would like the building to become an outreach center, which would provide schooling, medical care, food and shelter to children in the surrounding villages. She is also purchasing solar panels for eco-friendly lighting and a biodigesting toilet.

“I am hiring a Nepalese staff so that the center can be self-sustaining,” Doyne said. “There will be a playground and a garden and we will have our own cow for milk and fertilizer.”

Doyne said she wants Kopila Valley to be run mostly by Nepalese women, many of whom are widows, rejected from society.

“I want it to be a beautiful place full of nature and flowers,” she said. “It will be a loving environment.”
Take a look for yourself to read the rest of the story. I am in awe of what this young woman has done so far! Keep her in your prayers.

Photo: Observer Tribune

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