Posted by: Kath Usitalo | July 12, 2010

A “Michael Moore Moment”

Maggie, center, and some of the 30 children under her care. Erin Kelly is at the rear left; Gail Mooney is at the right (Gail Mooney photos)

This is a six-degrees of separation type of post. The topic has no direct connection to the wonders of the Great Lakes State and region, except that Gail Mooney recently had what she calls “my ‘Michael Moore’ moment” during the round-the-world documentary-making journey she and her daughter Erin Kelly are in the midst of.

(Michael Moore is the filmmaker from Flint, Michigan who now lives near Traverse City. Gail, with her husband Tom Kelly, own a still photography and video production company in New Jersey. Their daughter Erin just graduated college.)

Last month I posted something about the Opening Our Eyes documentary the two women are creating, which tells the stories of people who are making a difference around the globe.

Gail’s inspiration for the project began with Maggie Doyne, who went to high school in New Jersey with Erin. It’s what Maggie did after receiving her diploma that moved Gail.

Rather than shop for extra long sheets for a dormitory bed with other college-bound 18-year olds, Maggie strapped on a backpack and traveled to four countries. Long story short, she ended up in Surkhet, Nepal, where she did what any college-aged kid might do: She built a home for 30 orphans and abandoned children, and a school attended by 200 kids. And she’s all of 23 years old.

Bishal, safe and happy in Maggie's arms

Gail’s “Michael Moore” moment came when when—camera in hand—she, Erin and Maggie marched into the town hall to protest an open sewer trough that dumped raw sewage and trash onto the home/school property.

Read all about Gail and Erin’s adventures at Opening Our Eyes. Gail’s post at her Journeys of a Hybrid blog offers background on the documentary project.

Learn more about Maggie’s Kopila Valley Children’s Home and Blink Now Foundation, so named because, Maggie explains on her website, “I believe that in the blink of an eye, we can all make a difference.”

See a quick video of the ladies and six of the beautiful kids who have a new chance in life thanks to Maggie’s dedicated and loving efforts.

Perhaps the completed “Opening Our Eyes” documentary will be shown at a future Traverse City Film Festival, and Gail will have an opportunity to share her story with the main man behind the annual fest, Michael Moore.



  1. Kath – Thanks for your blog post on Gail, Erin and the Opening Our Eyes project. The dynamic duo have just left a India and landed in Bangkok, Thailand where they will fly to Chiang Rai in the North to join “Where There Is No Doctor” team. They will trek into the hill-tribes with the medical team visiting remote villages and document the good works of Dr. David Marnaw
    Thanks for sharing this documentary project with your readers!

    Tom Kelly

    • It’s a fascinating project. I do hope they enter it in the Traverse City (as well as other) film festivals!

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