Maggie’s story and the path she decided to take early on in life, has touched the hearts of people around the globe and changed the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children.
Maggie was a high school classmate of my daughter, Erin. After graduation, Maggie decided to take a gap year and travel before heading off to college. Eventually, she ended up in Nepal and saw a country devastated by 10 years of civil war and thousands of orphaned children left in its wake. She used her babysitting savings to buy property and build a home for herself and orphaned children – she was 19 years old. Maggie has 50 children now, has built a primary school for 250 kids and is currently building a high school.
When Maggie accepted the Hero of the Year award the other night, she said; “ And to all of you in this room and who are watching, please, please remember that we have the power to create the world that we want to live in”. She’s done just that and has inspired countless others, to do the same. She inspired my daughter and I to seek out other individuals all over the world who were creating positive change and to make a film about them, with the hopes it would inspire others to make a difference.
Imagine if we all thought like Maggie and believed we all have the power to create the world that we want to live in. The fact is we do have that power. It starts with the little things we can do – in our own lives, in our family’s lives and in our communities. Small things have a way of growing into big things. When you educate one child, you change a life that has the potential to change other lives.
Maggie, you continue to inspire me. You are a bright light in a troubled world and a beacon of hope. Congratulations for this well deserved honor.
If you’d like to watch Opening Our Eyes, a film about Maggie and other change makers, you can view it here. Use the code THANKS2015.
I’ve gotten away from writing lately, maybe because I’ve been really busy, and maybe because I’ve felt uninspired. That’s a terrible feeling for me, it’s as if I’m void of any “feeling” at all. It tends to happen when I’m spending more time doing the things I don’t want to do instead of what I feel I’m here to be doing.
When I woke up this morning I thought, “anything can happen today”. That thought in it self makes me want to get out of bed. I start thinking about the endless possibilities that can happen on any given day. I grabbed a cup of coffee, checked my email and read Seth Godin’s blog and it was like it was written for me. It was called “The moment of highest leverage”. He was talking about moments when you’ve either lost something or won – when it feels hopeless or when it appears to be a lock. He said that these were the times you can choose to do what’s in your heart and bring your real work to the world, instead of the lesser version that you think the market wants.
I’ve been struggling with feelings of hopelessness after a slew of rejections and misses. I knew I needed two things: a change of scenery and some insightful conversation. I went to Hawaii on impulse and got both. One day, my good friend PF Bentley was showing me the “film” that he made for National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. Dewitt has been shooting extraordinary images for the Natl. Geo for over 40 years and he had hired PF to create inspirational corporate training videos. The “film” segments were a combination of Dewitt speaking about his life and his career in an inspirational way and b-roll of him shooting in beautiful Hawaiian settings interwoven with his amazing still images. The piece was so touching; it brought tears to my eyes. When it was over I started crying and I apologized to PF. He said, “that’s ok, I know I’ve done my job right”. PF and Dewitt had done theirs jobs right and they had inspired me.
I’ve had two speaking engagements and a screening of Opening Our Eyes this past weekend and in each situation, I was feeling good and that I had something to say and to share. It must have come across because at each venue there was at least one person who I inspired – I could tell – I could feel it. There was one woman at the screening, who had found out about it through one of our subject’s blog, Maggie Doyne. After the movie was over and most people had gone, I talked to her for a long time and I could see that the film had inspired her greatly. I knew that I had done my job right and it was the best feeling in the world. It reminded me of what is most important to me in my life and that is to create awareness with my still images or movies and move people or inspire them.
I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook these days but I was looking at my news feed at the end of that long weekend and I noticed a photo that Ethan Browne (Jackson Browne’s son) had posted on his page. It was a photograph of Jackson with one of his fans and Ethan had commented underneath it “proud of my pops – he stokes people for a living”. I smiled and I thought, “That’s what I want to do”.
I never fully realized the power that is within me to make a difference, until recently. Last summer, my daughter and I spent time with extraordinary people who were providing homes for orphans, feeding the hungry and curing the ill. They were all people we met while making a documentary about the change makers in our world – people who are making our planet a better place.
Our goal was to inspire and motivate others as to what they can do to make a difference in their own communities. Our goal was to cause a shift, in culture and in thought – from “what in it for me?” to “what can I do?” We’ve just begun to submit this documentary to film festivals and show sneak previews to small audiences but I can already tell that this film has affected change and the potential it has to move people to action.
From our first sneak preview at the beautiful State Theater in Traverse City, MI to a recent screening at MIS in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I feel the energy in the room and the collective desire to strive for a better world. I feel the power of film and the power within me as a storyteller and filmmaker. I feel the time for this film is now and that people are hungry for hope.
Many documentaries take the critical point of view and certainly have more conflict. Opening Our Eyes is different from other docs in that it shines a light on what IS being done to create positive change by individuals all over the world. Somehow by showing the small acts, this film makes all of us believe that we can create change as well. It empowers us to believe in the possibilities and gives us the hope we seem to be yearning for these days.
When I first conceived of the idea for this film, inspired by friend and neighbor Maggie Doyne, I was looking for some positive hope myself. I was tired of listening to the hundreds of “experts” on TV talking and all of them needing to be “right” – and nothing was getting any better. That was long before the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements. What I was sensing was the rest of the world was feeling the same way I was and decided to do something about it.
Time will tell if the film continues to create awareness and moves people to action, but at least I’m hopeful again.
Please consider supporting our effort by making a contribution to our IndieGoGo campaign, which only has a few weeks, left to go. And it’s tax deductible.