One Wednesday earlier this year I got a message from Pollien. Pollien is my colleague and also spearheads 48percent.org.
Pollien: Hi! I saw that Maggie is coming to the Netherlands, do you want to go? I want to.
Me: Yes definitely!
So we bought two tickets to the ‘Share the Love Valentine’s Day Fundraising Event for BlinkNow’ on February 14th, 2020.
‘Who is Maggie?’, I can hear you thinking. We were talking about Maggie Doyne, the CEO and co-founder of BlinkNow. BlinkNow is a foundation on a mission to change the world by empowering Nepal’s children. They do this by providing quality education, a safe environment, and through inspiring others.
The BlinkNow story
In 2005 – when she was 19 years old – Maggie went on a gap year to India through the organization Leap Now. At the end of that year she was traveling, and while she was in Nepal she met Hima. That’s where everything started. Hima was a young girl she saw breaking and selling stones on the street. One of the hundreds of orphans that earned money this way. Each day Maggie walked past Hima. Each day she was greeted by the girl. More and more Maggie realized she couldn’t keep walking by without doing something. ‘Saving’ all of the orphans, that was an impossible task. ‘But what if I can mean something for this one girl?’ With that thought in mind she registered Hima at a school, paid her school fees, and bought her a uniform.
She spent the $5,000 that she saved from baby sitting on helping other children. With that money and more fundraising efforts, she bought a piece of land and built a Children’s home for 50 children, all of whom she adopted. In 2010 she opened a school that welcomes 400 children every year. She doesn’t do this alone, but rather together with her partner in crime, Top Bahadur Malla.
How I heard about Maggie
In 2016 Floortje Dessing made an episode about Maggie Doyne. This episode made a deep impression on me and many others. So much so that I started to follow her on Instagram. And that brings us back to the part of the story where I got the message from Pollien. She was coming to the Netherlands and we could meet her! She was in the country to participate in an episode of ‘Floortje terug naar het einde van de wereld (Floortje goes back to the end of the world)’. (You can watch the Dutch-language episode here).
Going to the event
I’m always too early and that day, of course, we were too early as well. The event was at the Luther Museum in Amsterdam. We were greeted by the volunteers working at the event. There was a bit of a chaotic atmosphere around us since they were still setting stuff up. We walked in feeling a little uncomfortable. We were the first. Oh wait, luckily someone else was also there.
There were scarves being sold, beautiful scarves. We both bought one. We found them gorgeous and our purchases led to the real question going through both of our heads– where are we going to sit and how will we tackle networking? Eventually, we found a strategic place where we could have a nice view of the whole event area.
Sharing our stories and our passion
And then -I’m not really sure anymore how- we were approached by Ashley. Ashley Dittmar is the Director of Development at BlinkNow. She started talking to us, and of course we talked about ‘our foundation’. She was enthusiastic. So much so that she asked Maggie to come over. We talked more about 48percent.org. We explained our mission to promote equality in the word through access to communication and stimulating the use of Information and Communication Technology. We further explained that we did this by making contributions to reduce obstacles in using the internet, such as accessibility, affordability, and the lack of the necessary knowledge and well as promoting access to free communication.
We talked about a possible collaboration between the two foundations. We couldn’t be happier. We connected on Linkedin and hugs were exchanged.
Then Maggie needed to go so she could give her talk. The story she told was recognizable. We already knew a lot from the tv show episodes and the Instagram posts. But some details we didn’t know. She told us about how she had to go back to the United States to earn money the only way that was available – through baby-sitting.
Furthermore, the contribution of foundation co-founder and Kopila Valley chairman Top Bahadur Malla was especially impressive; both his story and his life journey. After serving for more than 15 years in Ramana’s Garden, a project for Nepalese refugees in India, Top decided to go back to his native country and found Kopila. Top grew up in a small village in the Himalayas where he became an orphan at a young age. Kopila is his way of giving children in his country the childhood he always dreamed of. As Maggie’s foundation partner, Top is responsible for the on-site development, supervision, and management of Kopila Valley.
Goodbye is not always the end
After the speech the people slowly floated away. We talked quickly again with Ashley and promised to plan a conference call soon. As we left, we were both looking forward to the collaboration and my head was already full of plans and ideas. We hope to share those plans soon, so keep an eye out for more information coming soon!
About the author: Yvanka Hullegie-Vletter contributes her legal knowledge, non-profit experience, and her enthusiasm for education to 48percent.org. When she isn’t busy helping us or running the legal department of Voys and Devhouse Spindle, she is spending time with her family and writing wonderful stories about them.