What was I supposed to do first? I took out my notebook and listed the steps. I cam up with one, and it wasn’t even the first step: Go to Kathmandu. After that, I was lost. I put down my pen and stewed some more. The more I stewed, the angrier I got. All I had been trying to do in Nepal was get seven children out harm’s way. To bring them across town to a children’s home. That was it. I wasn’t trying to be Mother Teresa. And still I had failed.
-Connor Grennan, Little Princes
There are two desires I’ve had for the longest time. The first was to read Connor Grennan’s story, and the second was to visit Nepal. I accomplished the first, but that only magnified the second.
Once, during a transition phase of life, a guy named Connor decided to take a gap year and travel the world. When much of his family expressed disapproval, he decided to start the gap year by spending two months volunteering at Nepal’s Little Princes orphanage since he could silence his naysayers with his altruistic motives. What was supposed to be a two month stint ended up not just changing, but completely forming his life.
His adventurous spirit led him to continue to Vietnam, Singapore, Peru, and so on, but the bonds he formed with the Little Princes orphans ended up being too strong to allow Nepal to simply be a two month chapter in his life. He returned at the end of the year, and he made the discovery that the orphans weren’t at all orphans- they had wound up at the orphanage after being stolen from their families by a child trafficker who had discovered a way to turn a large profit from the children by separating their families and moving them throughout the country.
One particular discovery led Connor to discover seven children living in an unsustainable condition. He made a promise to help them relocate to a children’s home. Before he was able to deliver, however, the children had been kidnapped, split up, and scattered throughout the country.
Guilt, the promise, and a strong conviction led Connor to get back to Nepal to find these children against very improbable odds. Without any clue what he was doing, he founded a non-profit, in the process, which continues on today as Next Generation Nepal.
In the process of his mission to reunite children with their families in Nepal, Connor discovers a story, purpose, faith, and family. It’s quite the story.
It bears an unmistakable resemblance to Three Cups of Tea, but minus the controversy. I mean, the story may seem too unbelievable, but that’s not reason enough for me not to believe it. Instead I found it quite energizing, as it appealed to me on so many levels. My fascination of Nepal. My drive to do something for orphans. My longtime desire to do non-profit work which has finally materialized itself this year.
I’ve had a long standing interest in Nepal. While there’s not really a place in the world I don’t wish to see, the Himalayan region has had a particularly strong pull. High elevated mountains, the abundant presence of yaks, the enveloping nature, the necessity of fleece hats, and the distinctive quirks of the Nepalese culture all make me want to get to know this country. (Along with Bhutan and Mongolia, for good measure.)
In comparison to the facets of Nepal that really give the nation a place in my heart, however, these are quite superficial. Nepal is a country of tremendous beauty and vibrant culture, but like all, it has a number of issues. Nepal’s long lasting civil war which ended in 2006 has effects and residues that are still felt. Many families are still torn apart, and there are matters of extreme poverty, human trafficking, and underdevelopment that threaten justice across the country. Kids in Nepal are particularly vulnerable.
I can’t really explain it. My current investment is North Korea. I don’t know the entirety of my future but there are a few certain locations in the world that I have a strong sense will be included in whatever that looks like, to some degree. Nepal is one of them.
It seems odd that I have this sense of places I haven’t been, but that’s exactly why I want to visit. Once, when asked how one can choose from the many, many causes in the world to dedicate oneself to, Shane Claiborne responded with something along the lines of, don’t pick a cause. Meet people. Meet people, and love them, and the rest will flow.
I believe that.
B.O.H. was birthed out of personal encounters in Africa. Connor Grennan’s visit, originally planned as a short chapter in his life story, ultimately became a turning point upon his built relationships with the Nepalese children. When I met Bonnie Kim, the founder of Freedom and Fashion, she mentioned the two things as influential behind its beginnings were her faith and her experience going to different places and seeing things with her own eyes. All of these share a common denominator- meeting people, forming relationships, and letting Love dictate the next steps.
And that usually forms the inciting event behind a good story with one’s life.
Connor Grennan has a good story. By the end of the novel, it’s hard not to be wowed by it. You get a sense of how his character has shaped and changed and transformed by the end of his time in Nepal, and how it shaped his life that followed. While reading, I could see a lot of similarities between myself and the writer. His story also featured golden moments, moments where one just feels completed by the connection to one’s maker and what he or she was made to do. I’d talk about these moments in Little Princes in more detail, but I don’t really want to spoil this read. It was a great one, and I wouldn’t want to rob anyone of the surprises that lay in its pages.