Monday 17 January 2011

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

Published by William Morrow an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers and HarperCollins Publishers Canada

This is one of the most amazingly inspirational books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It all begins when Conor Grennan decides to drop his day job in order to take a trip around the world. He decides that it won't seem such a self-indulgent idea if he begins the journey by volunteering at an Orphanage in Nepal known as the Little Princes Children's home. Here, Grennan meets 18 children who were 'rescued' from Humla by a child trafficker who purchased them from their parents with promises of care, education, and safety from the civil war. Many children who are sold to traffickers in this way, become slaves or are given to foster homes where their survival is not a priority. Grennan gets to know the children at the Little Princes and is often stunned by their resilience given the trauma they have survived. When his stint at the Orphanage is complete, he vows before he leaves, that he will return in a year when his world trip is completed. When he returns, he sets upon two challenges. One is to locate seven orphans who have vanished from their foster home, and the other is to locate the parents of the The Little Princes orphans.

This is one of those books that brings home the message loud and clear, that just one person can commit an act that can bring great change, and when teamed up with like-minded determined people, the possibilities are without limit. When reading this book, I was on an emotional roller-coaster. The heartbreaking accounts from orphans who haven't seen their families in so long, and in some cases, believe their parents to be dead (incorrectly in most cases). The sheer terror that the team must have felt at times when seeking out the parents in the various villages which often called for nightmarish hikes across mountain paths that were falling apart - sometimes after little or no sleep! The joy of reunions and news of loved ones. There is no part of this book that didn't affect me deeply and I was especially moved by the ongoing romance between Conor Grennan and his love interest and fellow humanitarian, Liz. Among the many things I adored about this book is the fact that the centre of the book contains colour photographs of Conor Grennan, Liz, the orphans, parents, and much more. It really added a little something extra to be able to put faces to many of the names!

If you only read one non-fiction book this year, this should be the one. It's impossible to read this book and not find yourself changed, even if only some small way, by the content. For me, it's reading something like this that restores my faith in humanity. An excellent read!

You might also want to check out this great interview between Jason Pratt of Harper Collins Canada & Conor Grennan. I found it greatly interesting and it gave me a little more of a follow up on the book too!

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