Title: Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
Author: Conor Grennan
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 25, 2011)
Genre: travel, memoir
Objective rating: 5/5
Comments: I didn't expect to be so moved by this book, a story of a young man's trip in 2004 to volunteer in Nepal at a home for orphaned children. He discovers that many Nepalese children were being taken from their impoverished families and villages by child traffickers promising to take care of and educate the children. Instead, the children are kept in houses, neglected, some half starved, some sold into wealthier Nepalese homes as child slaves. The lucky children rescued from this situation land up in orphanages like The Little Princes Children's Home, run by international organizations.
Conor becomes so close to the "orphans" where he volunteers, The Little Princes Children's home, that he returns to Nepal after his first stint is over, to volunteer a second time and to found his own home for children under his new organization, Next Generation Nepal (NGN). He is helped by a French volunteer, Farid.
The book is a heart-warming account of Conor's work in Nepal, his relationship with the children in the home, little bundles of energy who are full of humor and laughter. When Conor finds seven starving children in Katmandu who had been taken from their remote mountain villages and just about abandoned into poverty by child traffickers, he arranges for them to be moved to one of the children's homes run by an international organization, ISIS. The children disappear before they can be rescued, however, and Conor vows to find them again. Those seven found children form the core of Conor's new children's home.
A close relationship develops between Conor and Liz, a woman and international volunteer whom he meets online and who encourages and advises him through the frustrations of finding the missing children and traveling to remote villages to locate any relatives of the children living at the Little Princes Home.
"The village I had been looking for was somewhere up the mountain...if we could even find the trail in the pitch-dark. My two porters and I had been walking for thirteen hours straight. Winter at night in the mountains of northwestern Nepal is bitterly cold, and we had no shelter." (from Little Princes).
There are about 15 pages of color photographs included in the book, of the children, Mount Everest Base Camp where Conor visited, the parents in the village of Humla holding pictures of their "lost" children, and children in their school uniforms posing for the camera.
Rating: I gave this a 5/5 star rating, without reservation. I was in tears several times reading this book, moved by Conor's compassion and sacrifice, and his love for the children. A must read for those interested in South Asia, Nepal, the plight of children in these areas, and even for curious armchair travelers.
The author lives in Connecticut with his wife and son and does fundraising for his Next Generation Nepal organization. Visit http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/
© Harvee Lau 2011