In search of adventure, 29-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children's Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.
Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined.
When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war - for a huge fee - by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.
For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life's work.
Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.
Consider yourself warned. Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, written and read by Conor Grennan, could very well be a life-changing listen.
Grennan’s tale of how he came to found Next Generation Nepal, a group dedicated to reuniting trafficked children with their families, has so many heart-grabbing highs that it is impossible not to become emotionally involved with the story. Which will linger longer: the image of the father who learns that his son, gone for nine years, is alive, or the description of the 14-year-old boy told at age five that his parents had died as he is told that his parents are alive and very, very eager to see him?
The author’s style is comically self-deprecating, and he admits that at the beginning of this adventure his goal in volunteering at a Nepali orphanage was simply a justification for the luxury of a year-long break from the tedium of work. He wanted to be able to say that he had volunteered at an orphanage. Unwittingly, Grennan stepped into the world of the Little Princes Children’s Home outside of Katmandu and found his purpose in life.
Grennan’s incredulity at the reality of the situation that the children were not orphans but the victims of a child trafficker re-shaped his life. The honesty with which he assessed what he had planned for himself and what he became compelled to do will give any listener hope for the future. The outrage is palpable as Grennan describes the ordeal of the children and the audacity of the trafficker who had tricked simple village people into thinking that, in the midst of their country’s civil unrest, they were paying to have their children taken to safety from Maoist rebels.
That Grennan becomes a man driven is apparent in the energy with which he describes his rapid education into non-profits and fund-raising and realizes his goal to work full-time to find trafficked children in Nepal and reunite them with their families.
Grennan’s descriptions of his journey to the remote Humla province, where most of the first group of children were from, are jaw-dropping in terms of physical hardship and deprivation. Besides not having electricity or running water, Humla also lacks roads. Walking from village to village through mountainous terrain, Grennan and his companions connect with the families of the children at Little Princes. Meeting and talking (through interpreters) with the families of the children helps the author truly understand the extraordinary bond between parent and child and the desire that parents have to make their children’s lives better.
Little Princes is not simply the recounting of an adventure. It is the wondrous intellectual, emotional, and spiritual metamorphosis of a young American man who recognized a cause greater than his own desires and never hesitated to take on the challenge. In doing so, he found his life’s work and, delightfully related in the book in his own voice, his life’s love. Grennan’s joy in telling his story will make you willingly open your heart and possibly your pocketbook to help the children of Nepal. Carole Chouinard
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Amazing experience + Inspiring tale
Hope there is a sequel!
- R. Cotton