Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan is a memoir of the author’s time as a volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal. Not only did Mr. Grennan volunteer, but he also went above and beyond his duties to find the long-lost families of these children who were not orphaned, but used and manipulated by war profiteers.
Grennan, fresh from a job in Prague, goes on a whirlwind worldwide trip in 2006. He starts his adventure volunteering at an orphanage called “Little Princes Children’s Home”. It turns out the kids are not orphans but victims of a notorious child trafficker.
Stunned by their stories, Grennan sets on a mission to locate the parents. So this is the story of how one man can make a difference. Volunteering with young children without any experience, the author finds himself thinking of the kids as family.
The story of how the kids came to the orphanage is distributing. A man, known to the authorities but with political clout, has promised poor parents to take care of their children, saving the youngsters from forced labor, slavery or joining the rebel army. The parents, poor as they are, scraped together a hefty sum to insure their child’s future. Once he got the money, the monstrous child trafficker abandoned the kids, forced them to work or sold them.
Grennan trekked through the mountains, at great peril and huge personal risk to remedy the situation and find the children’s parents – assuming they were still alive. As he tells his tales Mr. Grennan weaves in his love affair and eventual marriage to the lovely Liz.
The book is written in a pleasant manner but felt slightly rushed. However, that’s OK – as a former backpacker (in South America) I thought the style suited the storyteller. The book is enjoyable and readable while not giving way to sentimental moments. It comes across that Grennan is one of the “good guys” and is telling a genuine story while sharing credit with those who helped him along the way.
While it is obvious that Mr. Grennan tries to shine a positive light on those that helped him, he still makes them multidimensional instead of cardboard figures. (After all, even in the US you cannot be straight as an arrow in order to successfully navigate the bureaucracy.)
While the story is amazing, sincere and touching, it is also a pleasure to see how the author grows, both in personality and style over the five years that the memoir covers.
Grennan had to start a charity in order to keep his mission going strong – check out Next Generation Nepal.