With a backpack full of personal belongings, a young girl took a gap year after high school and embarked on a journey that took her thousands of miles away from home to a place that soon became an integral part of her being.
Growing up, many youngsters might feel confused and lost, and some may even experience a growing sense of indecisiveness. Often, it might take people a long time to become sure of what they want to do in life and which path to take.
A young American teenager battled the same feelings, which only intensified as time went by. After graduating from high school, she saw her peers short-listing colleges they aspired to attend, but was it really what she wanted to do?
A happy Maggie Doyne pictured with her adopted children. | Source: youtube.com/CNN
A SEARCH FOR SOMETHING MORE
Maggie Doyne didn't see herself spending another four years sitting in the classrooms. Her heart yearned for something more, so to decipher her one true calling, she decided to take some time to travel and explore the world. Speaking to Motherly, she recalled:
"I thought I needed to get to know myself a little better."
With a backpack and no specific plans, she left her New Jersey home in 2006 and headed east. Doyne found herself in a Buddhist monastery and helped build a sea wall off the island-nation of Fiji. Interestingly, she enjoyed the experience.
Maggie Doyne pictured with her adopted children in Nepal. | Source: YouTube.com/Global Citizen
A LIFE-ALTERING JOURNEY
Then, she went to India. The then-19-year-old Doyne shared that traveling helped her break free from the classroom walls, meet new people, explore the world, and find her passion. She stayed in northeastern India for some time, noticing her surroundings.
Doyne now runs "BlinkNow," a non-profit organization that includes a children's home, school, and women's health center in Surkhet, Nepal.
Nepal was drenched in civil war, and thousands of Nepalese families, including women and children, were fleeing the country and coming to India. Doyne watched the aftermath and felt deeply hurt. Soon, she traveled to Nepal with a young Nepali friend.
Maggie Doyne pictured as a young teenage girl. | Source: YouTube.com/CNN
FEELING THE PAIN
What Doyne saw in Nepal was even more upsetting. She saw little kids breaking stones on the riverbeds, many of them carrying garbage. The majority of the kids were malnourished and wore ragged clothes. Something tugged at her heartstrings. Doyne recollected:
"I knew that I would never be able to get that image out of my head and that I need to try to do something."
Maggie Doyne pictured kissing one of her adopted kids. | Source: YouTube.com/Global Citizen
TIME TO TAKE ACTION
The young American recalled seeing a little girl named Lakota, who carried a giant garbage bag in the scorching heat. Later, she met an acquaintance, Hema, who warmly greeted her every morning. Doyne knew she had to do something for these children.
She called home and asked her parents to send her $5,000 — the money she had saved from babysitting as a teenager. However, Doyne knew that money was not enough to help the Nepalese children, so she went to the U.S. and worked to earn some more.
A JOINT EFFORT
The entire village helped her build a house for abandoned and orphaned children when she returned. Over time, the word spread, and Doyne's story hit the newspapers. Donations started pouring in, and eventually, she received a call from Cosmopolitan Magazine.
After becoming the "Cosmo Girl," Doyne collected considerable funds, and people continued to rally in her support. In 2007, she built Kopila Valley Children's Home, which soon became flooded with children. But what was next for Doyne?
A DEEP ATTACHMENT
By this time, the young woman had become deeply attached to the kids, who looked up to her as a motherly figure. Could she bear parting from them? As the brood grew from ten to 20, 30, 40, and 50, Doyne knew she couldn't leave the children.
Due to Nepal's restrictions on international adoption, Doyne's non-profit had legal custody of the children, but she became a mother to them. It was a profound feeling she had never experienced before.
Her children gave her the strength to keep going in her mission, so in 2010, she founded the Kopila Valley School, followed by the Kopila Valley Health Clinic in 2011, and the Kopila Valley Women's Center in 2013. Fellow carers helped Doyne look after the children.
Doyne was overwhelmed with the love she received from the Nepali community, especially her children. "I didn't know I was going to fall in love with the kids and that we would have this bond that we do," recalled Doyne.
A DELIGHTFUL TURN
The young woman grew up with her children and cherished the journey wholeheartedly. Doyne was only 28 when her oldest daughter won a scholarship in the Netherlands, and she felt immensely proud of her girl.
Her everyday struggles were the same as any other mom — she was caring for an ill child, cheering up a gloomy one, and wishing another one good luck for his soccer game. But Doyne reveled in the joy of motherhood.
In 2015, her life took a pleasant turn when she met her now-husband, Jeremy Power Regimbal, at a lecture series. She watched how Regimbal connected with her children and said it helped her choose him as a life partner.
The couple married, and to Doyne's delight, she discovered she was pregnant. Surprisingly, one of her girls, Maya, was wary of her pregnancy, but Doyne explained that she loved her and her new baby. Regarding the experience, she shared:
"I think it made my relationship with my kids stronger, especially my teenagers. They were so happy to see me meet someone and have a baby and we kept them feeling a part of it every step along the way."
PRAISE & APPRECIATION
In 2015, Doyne was declared "CNN's Hero of the Year," followed by Dalai Lama presenting her with another honor, the "Unsung Hero of Compassion." The Kopila Valley School educated hundreds of children, the first literate generation of their families.
Doyne now runs "BlinkNow," a non-profit organization that includes a children's home, school, and women's health center in Surkhet, Nepal. As a confused teenager searching for something more, Doyne made an enormous difference and changed millions of lives.
"My wish is that every single child has a home and a family and a sense of security and safety and love," shared Doyne.
We hope Doyne and her fantastic family continue to grow and prosper in love.
Thank you, Maggie Doyne, for restoring our faith in humanity and being incredibly selfless and loving. More power to you.