Saturday, June 23, 2012

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

In Little Princes: One Man’s Promise To Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, author Conor Grennan recounts how a between jobs trip to Nepal turned into a calling to help the orphaned children of Nepal.  As much as the book is about his quest to help the young orphans, it is as much about what Nepal offers Grennan - both in terms of self discovery and love.

 A Three Month Stint
Twenty-nine year old Conor Grennan decides to leave his day job and travel around the world for a year.  He had planned this trip well and saved for the opportunity to be job free for a year.  He started his trip with a three month stay volunteering at a Nepalese orphanage - his opportunity to give back before he started his around the world trip of leisure. Upon arrival at the Little Princes Children’s Home, he is charged at and tackled by a group of wide-eyed Nepalese children excited to have a new playmate join them.  Immediately, Conor is overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and worries that he has taken on more than he can handle.  There is a vulnerability in these children’s willingness to embrace him that, although endearing, unsettles Conor.

As the weeks go on, however, Conor just accepts the enthusiastic love these children have to offer.  Along with his fellow volunteers, Farid and Sandra, Conor fills the children’s days with games of cards, soccer scrimmages and school lessons. The three months fly by and Conor has to leave the orphanage for his around the world trip but he vows to come back to Little Princes.  He makes good on the promise and the children are as happy to have him back as Conor is to be back at the orphanage. Conor grows attached to the children.

As he becomes more attached to the children, Conor also wants to protect his young charges.  Nepal is in the throes of a civil war and the young children are key targets for the Maoists who would like to recruit them into their army. When Conor learns these children have been pawns in the civil war for the entirety of their young lives, he is even more determined to protect them. Conor discovers the children are not really orphans - many of them have parents but were taken from their villages by traffickers who promised their parents that they would protect them during the Civil War by taking them to the safety of the Kathmandu valley.  They would collect large sums of money from the parents for this “service” but then just abandon the children.  Orphanages like Little Princes would take the children in but they were raised far away from their families without any knowledge that their parents were still alive.




Something Must Be Done
Conor learns the scope of the problem in Nepal is huge and that orphanages like Little Princes are only able to help a small percentage of the vulnerable children. A mission is born - Grennan knows he must do whatever possible to expand the services to children in Nepal.  He starts a foundation to help the trafficked children of Nepal. Next Generation Nepal  supports a three-pronged approach to helping the children of Nepal.  First it rescues these children from the street and places them in transitional homes; second it supports reconnection and reunification by finding parents in remote villages of Nepal to ultimately reunite them with their children in these transitional homes.  Lastly, the foundation works on prevention by targeting trafficking at its root causes.  All this (and a budding romance!) from a three month stint volunteering before traveling around the world - amazing!




My Thoughts
I devoured this book - I found Conor’s story and especially the stories of the orphans compelling.  I enjoyed reading about their daily lives at Little Princes and the many funny moments as they sought to understand each other. There were many heartbreaking moments in the book as the vulnerability and suffering of these children are revealed. But, the book is also one of hope.  There is hope in the work of Next Generation Nepal but especially in the humanity of people like those working in these orphanages and their dedication to doing right by these children.  This is a book I won’t soon forget!              

15 comments:

  1. I liked this book book but not as much as everyone else has. I really do admire the work Grennan is doing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too absolutely loved this book! I had no idea things like this were happening, but Little Princes opened my eyes. I recommend this book to those who like memoirs, people who overcome trials and make a real difference, and those who embrace causes for humanity. It was funny, a little sad, but thoroughly enjoyable!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've heard nothing but great things about this book and have it on my shelves but for some reason have yet to pick it up. I think now is the time to make this one my current non-fiction!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm listening to it right now! Grennan narrates and does a fine job.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. Ignore that auto correct... I meant "loved"

      Delete
  6. I have this on my shelf but have not yet picked it up. I will try to soon!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved – it doesn’t have to be one they just posted about. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved June Edition

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is one I've been meaning to read....sounds powerful

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm about half way thorugh this book at the moment and am loving it. I love his honesty and how his love for those children just keeps on growing. I can't wait to see how it ends.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I loved this book, especially since it wasn't all sickly-sweet Dudley Do-right in style.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved this book, too! It's rare that I find a non-fiction book that is a total page-turner, but this one did it for me. I thought it was very honest telling, and the work that's being done there is really exciting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It seems like no one walks away from this book unaffected. I really must read it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I thought this book was wonderful too. It reminded me that if you choose wisely non-fiction can be just as enjoyable and entertaining leisure reading as fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well, not to be an unwelcome guest at a garden party...but folks, let's look at some history and economic realities. Grennan is first, if anything, incredibly privileged. That is doubled-edged, yes. With privilege should come responsibility and to Grennan's credit he volunteers and tries to get to know another culture. He later does even more. But please do not forget the impact we foreigners have made on the Kathmandu Valley. It was blocked off, for example, (tank on Ring Road) from the rest of the country because it was a playground for international climbers, an economic engine for a very wealthy part of Nepalese society, the royal class. I hear lots of bad-mouthing of the "Maoists," and little in the way of trying to figure out why a Nepali would become involved in a revolutionary struggle in the first place. They were not all kidnapped. The Maoists in fact won a democratic election in 2008 after the King was ousted. Grennan has lots of individual feel-good moments in this book, but he has little to say on the collective Nepalese experience, or American responsiblity as a political player in Nepalese history.

    ReplyDelete