Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

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

Little Princes is the name of the orphanage in Nepal where Conor Grennan volunteered in 2004.  Nepal was in the midst of a 10 year long civil war when Conor arrived.  Conor's intention was to stay three months and then spend a year traveling around the world.  The children and the people he met in Nepal changed his life in ways he did not expect and when he left to fulfill his lifelong dream of traveling he vowed to return to the children in a year.  He kept his promise but  Conor was out of money and the war was coming to a dramatic and dangerous conclusion.  Conor flew home to New Jersey but left his heart in Nepal.

Before Grennan returned home he met seven children whom were abandoned by a notorious child trafficker.  They were scared, starving and deprived of human touch and emotion.  All of the children were from the remote village of Humla, located in the mountains in the northeast corner of Nepal.  This part of the country was greatly affected by the civil war and many children were conscripted in the Maoist army.  Desperate parents paid people to bring their children to safety, hoping they would have a better life and an education in Kathmandu.  What the parents didn't know was that their children were being forced to beg, lived in horrible conditions, were starved, beaten, and sometimes sold into slavery. 

Conor arranged for an orphanage to take the seven children but then the war became dangerous and the people from the orphanage couldn't get the children.  They were too late, the children had disappeared.  Conor was very distressed by this news and with his friend Farid, vowed to find these children and set up a permanent home for them.  Thus Grennan begins his nonprofit organization called Next Generation Nepal.  It's mission is to set up a home for trafficked children and try to return them to their parents.

Little Princes had me smiling from the very first page.  I was laughing by page eight when Brennan talks about toilets.  If you have ever traveled you will understand that the toilets of the United States "are the Bentleys of toilets, at the cutting edge of toilet technology and comfort" while the rest of the world's toilet system is quite inadequate.  I know exactly what he means and could definitely relate to being in a country that lacked toilets or knowledge of how the sanitary system should work. Hilarious!

Little Princes is about kids, lots of them, in need of love and encouragement.  Grennan takes the sad and sometimes difficult subject of child trafficking and child slavery and paints a picture of hope for everyone. I laughed and cried and couldn't put the book down.  Little Princes is a journey into the cultural villages and rural life in Nepal where wild monkeys hang on the power lines and cut off your internet connection.  It is where the Buddhist culture meets the Hindu culture and prayer flags fly in the wind. The Nepalese tend to have the same food for dinner every night and buses never come to a complete stop.  In short, Little Princes is a glimpse into another country far away from home and into the complex childhood of children stolen from their parents. 

Little Princes made me smile.

I am an action reader and so I am going to make a small donation to Grennan's nonprofit:
Next Generation Nepal.

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