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‘If I can help one girl, why not five? Why not ten?’ That's what Maggie Doyne asked herself after paying seven dollars for a Nepalese child’s school fees during a gap year trip.

Maggie was only nineteen years old when she took a bus trip to war-torn Nepal and became involved with a small girl, Nema, who was scavenging garbage and breaking rocks into gravel on the side of the road. She took her to school, paid her fees, and bought her a school uniform. But Nema was an orphan and needed shelter, food and clothing too. 

Maggie called her parents and asked them to send over her savings, $5,000 earned by babysitting while at high school.  With that Maggie bought a piece of land and began to build a shelter for orphans.

But she quickly ran out of money and had to return to the US to raise funds. Friends, family and the local community supported her vision and after a few months she had raised enough to return to Nepal.  Maggie now had formal custody of 40 Nepalese children living in the orphanage she called The Kopila Valley Children’s Home.

The new orphanage was soon overrun with children and Maggie was desperate for more funds when she won a CosmoGirl award for her work worth $20,000. (Bizarrely, they then whisked her off to New York for a beauty makeover.) This was followed by another award which funded the primary school. Built in 2010, it now has more than 230 pupils from the region, many of them the first member of their family ever to attend school.

Maggie hopes to give the children vocational skills which will bring in a steady income. And although the school is co-ed, Maggie has a special interest in the girls, not least because uneducated girls are especially at risk of exploitation.

‘I believe that if every child in the world is provided with their most basic needs and rights—a safe home, medical care, an education, and love—they will grow to be leaders and end cycles of poverty and violence in our world,’ says Maggie.

She shares her ideas with other young people through The BlinkNow Foundation. ‘I believe that in the blink of an eye, we can all make a difference,’ she says.

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