Last night, I went to a book signing for Conor Grennan’s recently released Little Princes. The book’s subtitle is “One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal” so clearly, his work holds a special place in my heart.
Conor’s story is pretty incredible. When he was 29, he decided that he wanted to take a year-long trip around the world. Giving in to his sense of guilt at being able to do such a thing, he decided that he’d spend some time volunteering in one or two of the countries on his route. He landed at an orphanage in Kathmandu, Three Princes, for three months. He laughed last night saying that his real motivation in volunteering abroad was to impress the ladies back home. At least he’s honest.
During his three months in Nepal, he learned the unthinkable truth about the children who had become like family: they were not orphans at all. According to the front sleeve of his book, “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.” He returned to the U.S. and started a nonprofit, Next Generation Nepal, to help children who have been trafficked find their families. It’s no easy task.
One of the most powerful parts of Conor’s presentation, to me, was when he talked about initially volunteering Nepal. He admits that he did it for all of the “wrong” reasons, namely impressing women and getting his family off his back about wandering the globe aimlessly. And yet, the experience transformed his entire life and the lives of countless others. He leveled with the audience, telling us that he had no skill set, no particular passion about this type of work, and in his mind, not much to offer. But, for him, it took this single volunteer experience to find all of those things.
Well said, Conor.