HONOREE Douglas Maclagan


Founder, Child Welfare Scheme

More than a 25 years ago, Douglas Maclagan was trekking in a rural village in Nepal where he was met by an anxious woman, scared for her sick child’s life. The woman placed the child in his arms, and his heart sank. There was nothing he could do: he had no medicine and he wasn’t a doctor. The child died the next day, and in that moment, the story of Child Welfare Scheme began.

Studies have shown that in Nepal, 35,000 children die before their fifth birthday each year. Half of the children that survive will never become literate, and up to 15,000 girls will be trafficked into sexual slavery. Overcome by the suffering on the faces of children all around him, Douglas made the decision to dedicate his life to helping the children of Nepal.

Together with the help of local villagers, he set up his first two daycare centers in 1995 and saw an immediate drop in infant mortality rates. Eventually, the health centers grew into the Child Welfare Scheme Nepal (CWSN), providing education, healthcare and social opportunities for disadvantaged children.

In 2000, Douglas opened The Asha Health Care services in Pokhara to provide high quality, accessible primary health care to the community and surrounding regions. At the clinic, he implemented newfound ways to communicate illness and treatment options to children and their parents. For medication dosage, he used time of day stickersa sunshine for morning and  moon for eveningto call out when medicine should be administered. To help parents understand which treatment plan had been created for each of their children, he would place a different stamp on each child’s hand—something easy to see, like a star or heart—and place the same stamp on the envelope containing the child’s medical records. These simple adjustments were critical to improving basic healthcare.

Continuing to fight for the children of Nepal in spite of political instability and a constant threat of uprising, Douglas has actively sheltered children from beatings, insurgent raids and recruitment into Nepalese brothels. Originally honored with the 2009 Health Award, Douglas has expanded his reach across Nepal, using his first World of Children grant as a platform to raise nearly $6 million to provide more than 30,000 of the region’s most vulnerable children with nutrition, healthcare, education and a brand new hospitality vocational training school that opened in 2017. He had previously been honored with the Gusi Peace Prize in 2004 and the Unsung Heroes Award in 2008.

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