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  • 06.12.09

Building a Home for the Children of Nepal

At 19, Maggie Doyne left home to go backpacking–and found her life’s calling halfway around the world

DoSomething,
headed by Fast Company columnist Nancy Lublin, has recognized four
young social entrepreneurs with $10,000 grants–and one with a prize of
$100,000. Fast Company has profiled one of these enterprising youth
each day this week. This is the last in the series.

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maggie-doyne

The money turned out to be just enough to buy a small plot of land in the town of Surkhet. She then raised funds to build the three-story Kopila Valley Children’s Home. Doyne, now 22 and the recipient of the 2009 Do Something Awards’ $100,000 top prize, lives there 10 months out of the year, taking care of the 26 Nepali children from ages 3 to 11 who call it home.

Doyne first felt the pull toward this work while volunteering at a school and orphanage in India. She served as the director’s chief aide, and quickly learned the not-for-profit ropes, from budgeting to dealing with donors to managing a school with hundreds of kids.

While she was at the Indian school, she met Nepali refugees who had crossed the border to escape the civil war. Moved by their stories of poverty and violence, she planned a trip to see the country firsthand. After meeting children who had lost their families, who were forced to be child soldiers, and who were unable to attend school, she decided they needed a safe haven–and that she would provide it.

maggie and the gang
house

Doyne quickly encountered a disappointing reality: She didn’t have space to match the need. She has thoroughly researched the background of each child she has taken in, trekking to remote villages to ensure that there are no relatives who could take them in.

The Kopila Valley Children’s Home is now packed–two to three children share each bed–but the prize money already has Doyne thinking about expansion. “$100,000 is like $10 million over there, it really is!” She also plans on building a free school for the children and community, even opening it up in the evenings to bring women in for literacy classes and vocational training.

kids

More winners’ stories:
Eric Glustrom: Choosing Your Own Adventure in Uganda
Marvelyn Brown: Raising HIV Awareness, One Young Person at a Time
David Burstein: Getting the Facebook Generation Out to Vote
Darius Weems: Pimping His Ride–and the Push to Cure a Disease