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How to Change the World with Maggie Doyne

George Grombacher May 24, 2022

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How to Change the World with Maggie Doyne

LifeBlood: We talked about how to change the world, how a gap year turned into a life and world changing event, how anyone and everyone can make a difference, and how to get started with Maggie Doyne, CoFounder of the BlinkNow Foundation and Kopila valley School in Surket, Nepal, and Glamour’s Woman of the Year, and CNN’s Hero of the Year.  

Listen to learn why the simple human principle of showing up for one another could be the key!

You can learn more about Maggie at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review here:


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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Maggie Doyne

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on one left with this is George G. And the time is right welcome. Today’s guest is strong and powerful Maggie, join Maggie, are you ready to do this?

Maggie Doyne 0:19
I’m ready. Right?

george grombacher 0:20
I’m excited to have you on. Maggie is the co founder of Blink now Foundation and the Coachella Valley Children’s Home and school and Scikit Nepal, she has been named a Woman of the Year by Glamour. And one of CNNs heroes of the year she is the author of between the mountain and the sky. Mega tell us a lot about your personal life. So more about your work, and why you do what you do.

Maggie Doyne 0:47
When I was 19 years old, I decided to take a gap year. And this was straight out of public high school in New Jersey, where I grew up in a typical New Jersey girl life. And through about a year of travel, I ended up in northeastern India, and then ultimately in Nepal, where I saw the plight of children after civil war. And I was traveling across the dry riverbed and saw dozens of children breaking rocks to sell as gravel. And I ultimately decided I wanted to stay and work with the local community to try to work on the issues surrounding child poverty, child labor, and orphan, the orphan care situation. Today, I’m mom to 58 kids. And I’ve been living in Nepal for 17 years running a school and a women’s empowerment center. And a lot of projects addressing how a child can thrive and grow and community. Amazing.

george grombacher 2:00
What What was your perspective on? If, if you were 15? And somebody told you this is what you’re going to be doing? What would your 15 year old self it said?

Maggie Doyne 2:13
Oh, definitely no way. I mean, I was a soccer player and headed for college. And definitely not going on that path by any means at all. So this was all very surprising. In fact, when I set out to travel, it was really just to have fun and leave New Jersey and take a break from college. So this was this was all a surprise and a result of just a few crazy left and right turns.

george grombacher 2:47
Yeah, that’s amazing. When when I was reading a little bit about your story, getting ready for a conversation today. I had my parent hat on because I’ve got two kids. And what flashed through my mind was, Oh, my goodness, what if one of my kids did this? And just being honest, I was like, I guess that’s why parents are scared of, you know, sending their kids on a gap year to places like India. And obviously, now that I’ve been able to think it through a little bit, you obviously the work you’re doing is literally changing the world. But what what, tell me a little bit about your parents reaction to everything.

Maggie Doyne 3:26
Yeah, you know, a lot of kids reactions when they hear the story, or interestingly enough, oh my gosh, I want to do something like that. But my parents would never let my parents would have never said yes. And I think it is important to talk about the fact that my parents embraced a gap here, they totally understood that it was unreasonable to send a kid who’s 1718 years old to spend $100,000 on an education without a sense of adventure, or a rite of passage, or like figuring out by tinkering and discovering and traveling, like what is it that makes me come alive, that I can feel passionate about that I want to learn about more. So I think they were really special. And I don’t think it was easy for them. Like, it’s one thing to take a gap year, it’s another thing to ask them to, like, support me as I start to build a life on another continent very far away, but over, over long conversations and listening, you know, they became the biggest supporters ever. And I’m really, really proud of them for that. In this case, I think, you know, most kids go on gap years and it is a traditional path and they go back to college campuses. Having found and learn more about themselves, right. It’s something I think our culture should encourage. But yeah, mine kind of did take an extreme extreme turn in fact got Your programs are like, we’d love to have you come speak. But I think you’re every parent’s biggest fear.

george grombacher 5:07
For sure. I think that that’s right.

Maggie Doyne 5:10
In the book, I write this one line. It’s like, I’m sure every parent wants to raise a kid who wants to go to Nepal and help and support children. But not every parent actually wants to see that through, you know, like, yeah, so I’m really grateful that I had kind of hippier more progressive parents, I guess, I don’t know what they are just, yeah, saw my spirit, I guess, and allowed for it.

george grombacher 5:40
Right? Like, we’re able to have those conversations with you, right, and to allow you to persuade them, or to tell your story and to say, Hey, this is so important to me. Because I think that a lot of children, human beings are capricious, and we see something and we want to do it, but then we don’t end up seeing it through. But now it’s been 17 years. So your parents made a good decision?

Maggie Doyne 6:12
Yeah, my parents told me, I mean, I could have failed to, you know, I could have failed, I think at the end of the day, they were like, go go on this journey of learning and see where it takes you. Right? Because it’s all about learning. At that age, I think you’re trying to figure out your place in the world.

george grombacher 6:30
Through degree, I think everybody is still trying to find their place in the world. As, as an American, whatever, 43 year olds in Arizona, or if I’m a 15 year old, in, in, in XYZ City, and I’m looking at social media, and I’m reading about what’s going on in the Ukraine, or just, there are an infinite number of things to be to be concerned with? And how do I have an impact on that? That’s something I spent a good amount of time thinking about. And you are the evidence that you have the power to change. Just it’s inside of us.

Maggie Doyne 7:09
Yeah, unfortunately, we’re at a time where we are so overwhelmed by suffering, and issues, like, whether they’re environmental or addressing homelessness or violence. Poverty in this world, it’s like, we’ve got so much work to do. And I think it’s easy to really feel paralyzed by it and be like, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what even matters. And I very much relate to that. I have my moments of like, Oh, my God, are we going to be okay, as a human family? Are we going to survive all of this? And then I think I just look at the faces of our children. And I’m like, we’re gonna be okay. This is gonna work. We’re gonna figure this out. The hopeful part of me.

george grombacher 8:02
Yeah, hope, hope for the future. What? Why do you say that? Tell me about what you see when you look at these kids?

Maggie Doyne 8:11
Well, I think that when we are able to figure out how to create a world where every child is safe, and educated and loved, and nurtured, there’s this exponential, insane ripple effect that happens. And a happy childhood is the greatest gift we can give everyone. And I think, education, it’s the world’s greatest equalizer. Once every child is cared for, there’s a direct correlation to thriving communities, economies, public health, I mean, there’s just a million good and positive things happen. And we just haven’t figured that out as a human family just yet. How to how to take care of our children our most sacred or most valuable, our most vulnerable, but I think we will. We figured a lot of things out. Like, can’t we figure out how to feed children and send them to school? And make sure that they’re loved and protected? That’s simple. It’s not, you know, you’re a dad. Like, it’s not it’s not rocket science. I don’t think No,

george grombacher 9:31
literally, we have people that are sending other humans into space just for fun. Right now, and that that we can’t do the things you’ve just described, is a bit of a head scratcher. Right and maddening and I’m sure causes what causes everybody. Pain and then it results in bad things and cycles and in perpetuity and all those things.

Maggie Doyne 9:58
Basically, give a girl up backpack and books to read and access to literacy and autonomy. Miracles happen, it’s just like everything changes. And that is how we stop cycles of poverty and violence in our world right there. Boys and girls, I think I would argue, everybody, just, let’s just take care of each other a little better.

george grombacher 10:24
Well said, We’re where you were in, in our in, in circuit, as you’re trying to is, is, I imagine what you’re doing is is new and groundbreaking. What forces did you have to fight against? And how do you see parallels? Because I don’t need to go to circuit to start a school or to help kids. Right? I can do that here in Phoenix, Arizona, and have an impact I do at my own house. What are the forces that you see as stopping this progress? If I’m asking the right question?

Maggie Doyne 11:05
Yeah, I, I think realizing that this work can be done in partnership and collaboration with local communities. That was really key, I have an incredible co founder, his name’s taupe, and he was an orphan himself from that community. So it was it was more than just me as an outsider coming in and being like, why are children breaking rocks, we really looked to partner and go deep at the grassroots level. And look at the issues surrounding poverty, which were complex, they were linked to culture and patriarchy. And in the end, I think, you know, civil war. And I think Toby and I, in the very beginning, put our heads together, and we were like, hey, if we could figure out how to do this, in a war ravaged politically unstable food, one of the most food deficit regions of the world with the highest child mortality rate in the world, maybe this can be done anywhere. And that’s just kind of the moment where that’s where we decided to put down our base camp. But I think what we were able to unravel over the years is that love nourishments, a happy childhoods, you know, access to music and sports and dance and nature. A lot of our focus and our programmatic work surrounds the theme of making sure that a child can have access to their basic human needs and rights. And then after that, incredible things happen. So it’s there are complexities working in different parts no matter where you are. But the general theme of giving a child a happy childhood and making sure they’re safe. With partnerships with local social workers, with local experts, with local people shaping curriculum with loving teachers, and quality education, that’s less complicated. I think some geopolitics and all that stuff can get in the way. So I don’t want it to seem like the easiest thing in the world. It’s very, it was really hard. And we’ve definitely had our challenges, but we’re still here. And we have 166 kids in college around the world. becoming engineers and teachers and change makers and health care workers. It’s incredible. Yeah,

george grombacher 13:52
that is incredible. Really well done. So very limited food, high child mortality, existing structures that just are contrary to what it is you’re trying to do. But you figured out how to do it and collaboration and partnership and love and making sure that people are nourished and you have fun, right talks about music and dance. And as long as you have the will to stick to it because it’s going to be hard, then change is possible. People ask you what what went when when you look at what are you frustrated by most today after 17 years looking around?

Maggie Doyne 14:46
I think there is a sort of except acceptance amongst some folks of like, well, this is how it’s always gonna be. He’s always gonna Have you poor people in the world? Or like, just yeah, that that apathy? I guess? I don’t know what the word is. But yeah, like, think accepting of status quo. You know, that’s you can’t help everyone, you know, like, just I think we’ve accepted some of this as normal. And that’s frustrating to me. This is not normal. Like, we’ve just gotten hit and bombarded by so much. Yeah, it’s frustrating that there’s still we’re still watching bombs drop. It’s frustrating that we still have war and conflict. And you think after hundreds of years, we would have figured some of this stuff out. And we haven’t I think that’s frustrating to everyone.

george grombacher 15:51
For sure, that I know. Sure, it can feel like one step forward, two steps back. And it is amazing. You look at what’s going on in the world today. It’s like, wow, we’re still doing this. We human beings are such dummies.

Maggie Doyne 16:06
Why? Why? Yeah.

george grombacher 16:10
And the answer is that you and the people that that are doing, work that you’re doing and are committed wake up, and and you do your work every day.

Maggie Doyne 16:22
Yeah, I think ultimately, we will have to reach a tipping point and a collective consciousness around how we want to exist in the world, how we take care of our human family, how, yeah, general rules for how we operate and care for one another. And I just think we haven’t figured that out perfectly just yet. But I hope we will, I hope, like technology. And at some point where we do figure it out, and I hope it’s in our lifetime, don’t you? Sure? It’d be amazing to see in our lifetime.

george grombacher 17:02
It’s it’s, you have a such a wonderful and unique perspective, because of your experiences and the things that you’ve seen which are different than than, than other people. For somebody who’s for the people who are listening this so you know, what I’m interested in finding something that I’m as excited about as as, as Maggie, how do you counsel people or coach people and going through that exploration process?

Maggie Doyne 17:33
I think just take that one step. Get involved in that one cause or that organization, it could be as simple as that. Giving, contributing, volunteering, making a donation to a cause you care about, it doesn’t have to be these big dramatic move 1000 miles away, like you said, I think it’s just finding something that you want to see as a change in the world, and helping bring about that vision to make it happen. And, yeah, I hope that somebody listening sees that. And they’re like, Yeah, I could do that. I can, you know, it’s like supporting a local food pantry, getting involved on a board, a board of an organization doing work you care about, maybe they’re like cleaning up the ocean or supporting a child mentoring, the child’s becoming a mentor for someone in need. There’s a million ways to help. And enough of us doing enough small things will create that tidal wave we’re looking for. And maybe someone listening to this in 100 years will be like, Whoa, like it happened. You know, like, oh, there was once a time where children were cold and hungry and didn’t have access to go to school. And wow, we figured it out. And that would be because I think if we did figure it out, it’d be because of, you know, billions of us doing small things.

george grombacher 19:05
Yeah. I think that that’s right. Do you think that sometimes, it’s going to ask you like the most leading question ever, sometimes I feel like it’s a thing of scale, that I feel like I should be doing way more when. If I’m doing a great job with my kids. And I’d like to say you should attend to the parts of the garden that you can actually touch. Yeah, we shouldn’t trivialize that impact.

Maggie Doyne 19:33
Hell, no. It’s it is I love the garden patch. Yeah, tend to your garden, your side of the street. Yeah, and raising conscientious human beings parenting is a huge part of that journey. making soup for your neighbor, when they’re sick. Like it’s we’re not talking about it. But we’re talking about like, the simple human principles of showing up for each other. Which, by the way, is the foundation of every major religion and spiritual teaching. It’s compassion. It’s love. It’s care for each other. It’s kindness like these are. These are simple things. I think we’re living in a world with so much distraction, so much being thrown at us that we do, we can just forget, like, care for my, my, myself, my family and the people around me and do the best I can to be kind and lead with love. And enough of us doing that. Again, like I believe in that very much.

george grombacher 20:44
Couldn’t agree more. Love it? Well, Maggie, thank you so much for all of the work that you’ve done. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Where can people where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you? Where can they get a copy of between the mountain and the sky?

Maggie Doyne 21:00
Oh, my book between the mountainous skies available anywhere books are sold anywhere you like to buy books, your local bookstore online. And you can follow our organization at blink or on social media and all over. You can find a sign up link now.

george grombacher 21:19
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show Meg your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas and for people who are trying to change the world. Go to blink It’s b l i n k and o And pick up a copy of between the mountain and the sky wherever you buy your books. Thanks again, Maggie.

Maggie Doyne 21:42
Thank you.

george grombacher 21:44
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight because we are all in this together.

Transcribed by

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