Conor Grennan opened my eyes to the heinous crime of child trafficking. I had heard of it of course, but never really absorbed what it meant to these children and their families.
Little Princes tells the story of Golkka (even his name sounds evil) a notorious child trafficker who preys on the poor families in the far flung regions of Nepal and convinces them for a fee, which is usually most of their life savings, he will take their children out of harms way during the civil war that rages in their country and keep their children safe. And after receiving this exorbitant sum he demands, he does indeed take the children-and then sells them into slavery, thus profiting twice off these children, some of whom are only five years old.
These children were forced to work for up to twelve hours a day washing dishes to earn their keep in small, dark, lice infested rooms where they were underfed and malnourished until someone came along to rescue them.
Little Princes starts out as a story about eighteen children in an orphanage in Godawari who are really not orphans at all but children rescued from child traffickers. The book changes about halfway through to the story of seven children that Conor and another orphanage volunteer named Farid try to rescue from traffickers. They are literally hours away from doing so when Golkka learns of their plan and moves the children and they disappear again in Kathmandu, a city of one million people.
The search to find these seven children becomes an obsession to Conor. He is riddled with guilt. After all, he had promised the seven that he was coming for them and they would once again be safe. His days are filled with thoughts of what he can do for them. He knows he has to find them and reunite them with their parents but he doesn't know how.
The answer finally comes to him. He will start a non-profit agency to do exactly that. He spends weeks on the computer researching how to set up a non-profit organization and months raising money and planning a rescue mission to the Humla region of Nepal and finding a home to shelter these children until their parents can be found. Thus Next Generation Nepal is born.
Conor Grennan tells his story with such honesty, admitting that he volunteered at Little Princes for one selfish reason-to "impress people." Laying bare his feelings of ineptitude, weakness and fear, you can't help but fall in love with this man who is adept, strong, and brave. Conor, it is easy to see, is a very humble man. A few lines from the book clearly demonstrated this to me. After finding out one father had walked three days to make a phone call to his son he hadn't seen in three years Conor says-
"Having no children myself, I had completely underestimated the lengths to which a father would go for his son."
But what you don't know unless you read the rest of the book is the lengths Conor went to make this phone call from a father to a son possible. Written with a lot of humor, Little Princes was not the intense, depressing read I thought it would be and for that I am thankful. Too often books that are written about heavy topics such as these can be hard, emotionally, to get through. But Conor never lets its light-hearted tone underscore the seriousness of what is happening in Nepal and undoubtedly other parts of the world.
I thank God for people like Conor who can do the things I wouldn't have the courage to do. People who are risking their lives to make a difference in other's. I encourage you to read this book and I implore you to check out Next Generation Nepal's website and make a donation. No child should have to go through what Madan, Bishnu, Navin, Dirgha, Samir, Kumar, Amita, and so many others have went through. And if you want to impress people, tell them you made a donation and why. 4/5 stars