Earlier this year we featured BlinkNow and it's founder, Maggie Doyne, in our Get Involved: Ways to Help area. BlinkNow is a Nepal based organization that is a gold standard for community empowerment that in turn builds sustainable futures for Nepal's children. We are thrilled to share the wonderful news that Maggie was recently named CNN's 2015 Hero of the Year! Congratulations Maggie!
Maggie O'Brien volunteered during BlinkNow's Dashain Camp this past fall. While living, working, and playing among the beautiful children of the Kopila Valley, Maggie journaled her thoughts. She shares those words with our RainbowKids community today.
For the Kopila Family by Maggie O'Brien
There’s a chaotic rhythm to this house: bells ring, kids shout, plates clatter, music plays. Everyone is constantly in motion; it’s a space of liveliness and life. Fifty kids, aunties, uncles, fellows, volunteers, dogs, the occasional captured fish or crab – Kopila Valley is a beehive. There’s an ever-present buzz in the air; it’s an unexplainable feeling of community, and family, and home. There’s a beauty to the commotion.
I’m sitting on the roof as I write this. Surkhet stretches out before me, a small city with concrete houses and dusty streets. The air smells like smoke, goats munch leaves in a neighbors yard, and the setting sun casts a soft light over the hills. On the balcony below, Maggie sits at her computer working.
I came here with so many expectations and preconceptions. When I heard about this woman who has the same name as me, who picked up her life and moved to Nepal when she was my age, I was star struck and inspired and jealous. It felt like someone had done exactly what I had wanted to do with my life. Questions overflowed in my head: how did she do it?
I have a strong belief that things happen for a reason. I didn’t intentionally follow in Maggie’s footsteps, but I found myself in Nepal for my gap year. I spent my first three months discovering the quirks of this country and realizing that traveling on your own can be hard, and lonely, and wonderful all at once. I fell in love with the cows that roamed the streets, the rooftops, the vegetable stands, the language, and the colors.
I’m here at Kopila Valley for the last leg of my journey. Hours and days tick by quickly as the end approaches. I was only able to spend a few weeks here as a volunteer – barely enough time to understand rhythm of this family. I’ve spent hours trying to write this for them, but it’s difficult to find the words to describe what it feels like to enter the red and white walls of their home.
It’s been everything that I thought it would be, and so different. Maggie is amazing – she’s overflowing with energy, and kindness, and love for her kids. But she’s also normal. You’ll often find her singing loudly or joking with the fellows. There are fights over marbles to deal with, a baby to take care of, and endless work to be done. It looks hard to raise these kids. But she’s doing the most un-normal thing for a twenty-nine year old to do in the most normal way.
Every kid here has amazed me in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I wish I had enough time and space to right something to each of them. I’ll walk away with memories of holding Maya’s hand as we walked to the women’s center, of watching Santosh dance for the first time, of seeing Ravi whip and nae-nae like a pro, of all the boys in my class presenting their poetry, of blasting music and satsung and singing and this sense of belonging.
I’ve never seen kids so confident to stand up and perform, independent enough to cook dinners, or kind enough to take care of each other. I have this feeling that there’s a new generation being born here – the Kopila generation.
There’s a chaotic rhythm to this house: bells ring, kids shout, plates clatter, music plays. Everyone is constantly in motion; it’s a space of liveliness and life. I couldn’t be more grateful to have seen it, to have felt like a part of it, if only for a little.
You can donate to BlinkNow here.