Little Princes is this month’s Travel Book of the Month. A story of a man that set out with less than nobel intentions, yet found his way by making a difference in the lives of lost Nepalese children and their families. After an eight year stint with a European public policy think tank, Conor Grennan decides that he’s had it with the corporate grind and decides to travel the world for a year. The prospect of quitting a good job and spending his life savings to travel around the globe at a time when his peers are settling into their careers and starting a family was less than popular. To combat the accusations of irresponsibility and selfishness that were sure to come from friends and family, primarily his mother, he came up with the poorly planned idea of volunteering at an orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal to kick off his trip. It seamed like a brilliant plan if his mother questioned he could reply “don’t you care about orphans?” and even better yet it would sound great in bars “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 about that,’ I would shout over the noise of the bar, trying to appear misty-eyed. ‘I have to think about the children.” It was a great plan he could travel the world “guilt free” the only draw back, he knew nothing about volunteering, running an orphanage or even children, let alone children in challenging situations.
A naive Grennan lands in civil war torn Nepal, jet lagged and overwhelmed by the prospect of dealing with children and fulling his volunteering obligations. He is rushed through an “orientation” where he fortunately retains the teachers miming of how to utilize the strange non-western toilets and pretty much nothing else. Unaccustomed to the heat, dust and cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells of Nepal, he is thrust upon a Nepalese family to orient himself with the local culture. Determined to make the most of his time he befriends a quiet member of the family from whom he learns some of the language through pointing and miming. Proud of his new found language skills he tries his vocabulary out on his host family, after a significant amount of confusion he becomes frustrated. One of the older boys in the family who spoke some English asked where he had learned his vocabulary Grennan’s reply sent the boy doubled over in laughter, after he recovered enough, he explained to the perplexed Grennan that his younger sister was deaf and has never heard Nepali spoken.
Despite this less than smooth start and his lack of any skills associated with working in an orphanage “Brother Conor” as he is referred to by the children is won over by their unquestioning love and becomes their champion. When he discovers that the children are not parentless, but have been victims of child trafficking he makes it his life’s mission to reconnect the families of these and all of the lost children of Kathmandu. Grennan fights his way through the political corruption of the government, risks life and limb in the remotest area of Nepal, and even faces off with Maoist rebels to accomplish this task. It is a heart warming tale of someone who started out with questionable ideas, but recovers to become an inspiration and someone who is making a difference in the lives of others. Self-deprecating humor, travel in Nepal, adorable kids, touching moments and working for something positive in the world make for a winning combination and a good read. To find out more about Conor’s Next Generation Nepal charity click the link. http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/
Travel Photo’s of the Week of Nepal