When Is an Orphan Not an Orphan?

When it’s an orphaned sock might be one answer. I mean,
seriously, unless you have a dog or cat that grabs your socks out of the
laundry basket and drags them outside, your sock probably has a mate somewhere in
the house. It’s just that after a cursory look you give up and, voila, an
orphaned sock it is.
Reading Conor Grennan’s new book, Little Princes,
enlightened me that this principle holds true in the world of human orphans as
well. Grennan decided to spend two months volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal,
mainly because it made girls in bars get all misty-eyed when he talked about it
and made his planned yearlong trip around the world sound less self-indulgent.
The children—16 boys and 2 girls—of Little Princes
Children’s Home outside of Kathmandu innocently welcomed Grennan in and then
stole his heart. Grennan returns to Little Princes after his year of travel and
in 2006 founded Next Generation
. What led him to begin a new nonprofit? The discovery that most of
the orphans he was encountering in Nepal were not technically orphans. 
 Child traffickers preyed on remote villagers who feared the
Maoist rebels in the civil war would force their children to become fighters.
For a large sum, they offered to take children to Kathmandu and provide them
with an education in safety. Parents sold much of their belongings to raise the
money to “rescue” their children. Unfortunately, the traffickers
dumped the kids in illegal orphanages (which often took money from international
donors to care for the children but pocketed the money and starved the kids) or
sold them into slavery.
Grennan met many children from the remote Humla region and
made it his mission to reunite children with their parents. He and another
volunteer established another orphanage to care for children in transition. And
then Grennan began taking treks into the dangerous and remote areas to find the
parents of his kids. Sharing photos and letters allowed him to see families
reconnect and, where possible, reunite. Next Generation Nepal carries on his
legacy, and you can
help them do so
A portion of the purchase price of Little Princes will be donated to Next Generation Nepal. But that’s
not the main reason to buy it. It’s a great read. Grennan’s story is engaging, written in a style
that pulls you in, rooting for his success, or his life. If you liked
Cups of Tea
, you’ll love Little
. Or if you like extreme adventure
books, this one will get your blood pumping. Pick it up. Read a few pages.
You’ll be hooked.
And an orphan who isn’t an orphan may get the opportunity to
be in his or her family after all.


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