I know, I know... I've been talking, blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting a lot about her lately. But that's because the girl has completely transformed my life. About a month back I happened upon her Do Lecture talk (thanks @MrsPBoutique!) and watched it about five times. It made me cry, smile, laugh and mostly it woke up this bit of me that had been sleeping.
From the time I was a child, I was interested in doing volunteer work. I can remember having my grandparents drive me to the edge of town on Sunday mornings at 6 am where I volunteered at the local animal shelter, mucking out cages, feeding animals and then eventually bathing them and playing with them. When I was 16 or so I saw a documentary about the Aids infected orphans of Romania and I remember writing to a Catholic organization who was working to help care for them. I wanted to go there so badly, I wanted to help. Somewhere along the way, I lost this drive. I've always cared and maintained a strong sense of what I like to think of as justice but I didn't see a way into making anything really happen. I guess a kind of helplessness sunk in.
Then I watched Maggie's talk and she just totally woke me up. Here's this 19 year old girl from Jersey (she's 23 now) who ends up in Nepal founding and running a home for orphans and a school. No one told her how to do it or gave her permission, she just did it. And my goodness! She does it with humility, grace and despite seeing some heart-wrenching things, she does it with almost a childlike sense of optimism. And she makes me want to do things too!
Over the past few weeks, Dan and I have had the privilege of working with Maggie and her wonderful friend, activist, inspirational colleague and brilliant writer Megan to help refine some small bits of the Blinknow.org website as they've prepared for the inevitable traffic and response the NY Times pieces were bound to bring them. We've received so many thank yous from these ladies, but the secret is that it's me who is completely overflowing with gratitude. These two amazing women have made me reconnect to that part of myself that believes that the world can be better and that we can be better in it. That all of these tiny moments, encounters and acts are serendipitous. And Dan, well, he's just the most supportive man in the world and over the past few weeks he did so much of his technical magic because he wants to make good things happen and because I think he sees how passionate I am about these ladies and what they're doing.
I really look forward to continuing to work with Maggie and Megan and who knows, maybe I'll find my way to Surkhet over the coming year, get my hands dirty and meet some of the lovely people Blinknow is working to support.
You can read the New York Times here: The D.I.Y Foreign Aid Revolution, view some stunning images of Kopila Valley Home and School on the Times Magazine slideshow and read more about how to change the world on Nicholas Kristof's NY Times Blog. I've put my favorite image from the slideshow below. Those beautiful girls remind me of an outtake from a Sophia Coppola film!
(Photo by Alessandra Petin for the NY Times)