Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

The blurb:
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.

One of my favorite people and best friends is from Nepal.  I visited him and his family in 1989, while the country was still a constitutional monarchy and the King and his family were quite beloved.  I'd loved Nepal and its other world charm; you could walk around Katmandu and suddenly come across an ancient stupa.  The place was tranquil with Tibetan monks and cheerful and gentle locals.   There was just so much to see.

The Little Princes opens in 2004, just 5 years later, and introduces us to a very different Nepal.   Conor Grennan captures so well the political events of Nepal and he makes the country and its people come so alive and he does so with humor and sympathy.

He talks about how he came to volunteer to help orphans in Nepal when he was 29:

The brochures for volunteering in Nepal had said civil war.  Being an American, I assumed the writers of the brochure were doing what I did all the time--exaggerating.  No organizations were going to send volunteers into a conflict zone.
Still, I made sure to point out that particular line to everyone I knew. "An orphanage in Nepal, for two months," I would tell women I'd met in bars.  "Sure, there's a civil war going on.  And yes, it might be dangerous. But I can't think of that," I would shout over the noise of the bar, trying to appear misty-eyed.  "I have to think about the children."
Conor  arrived in Nepal ready for adventure and a sense of humor and ready for the adventure albeit with little experience with children.  He tells the story of his culture shock, adjustment, friendship with the children and other volunteers, and life in Nepal with such wit, humor, and sympathy that I couldn't put the book down.  I read Little Princes on my way back from the Philippines - and the book kept me occupied and entertained during the long flights and the many lines.

The story is part adventure, thriller, love story and one with an important message.   Grennan's account of helping orphans in Nepal and reuniting families in the midst of a Civil War is one of the most engrossing and satisfying books I've read in a long time.

ISBN-10: 0061930059 - Hardcover $25.99
Publisher: William Morrow (January 25, 2011), 340 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Conor Grennan, author of the memoir Little Princes spent eight years at the EastWest Institute (EWI), both in Prague and the EU Office in Brussels, where he served as Deputy Director for the Security and Governance Program.

At EWI, Conor developed and managed a wide variety of projects focusing on issues such as peace and reconciliation in the Balkans, community development in Central Eastern Europe, and harmonizing anti-trafficking policy at the highest levels government in the European Union and the former Yugoslavia.

Conor left EWI in 2004 to travel the world and volunteer in Nepal. He would eventually return to Nepal and found Next Generation Nepal, an organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families and combating the root causes of child trafficking in rural villages in Nepal. He was based in the capital of Kathmandu until September 2007 where he was the Executive Director of Next Generation Nepal.

To Donate to NGN, visit

Conor now serves on the Board of Next Generation Nepal, together with his wife Liz. He is a 2010 graduate of the NYU Stern School of Business, where he was the President of the Student Body. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son, Finn, and a soon-to-be baby girl.

Watch Conor talk about Next Generation Nepal and his experience in Nepal at

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