Because of the current unrest in Egypt, we can understand the issues of this book even more clearly. The uprising in Egypt and the demand for the unseating of a dictatorial leader, was peaceful, but the civil war in Nepal was not, although it did eventually unseat their king and allowed the formation of a government of sorts which included the Maoists, the very group that caused so many of the hardships and much of the deprivation in the villages. The need for change in Nepal, however, was just as desperate as in Egypt and, as always, there are unintended consequences for change. Unfortunately, years later, the country is still unsettled. Often, the group's most influential leaders, in the fight for freedom, are almost as bad, if not worse than, the former heads of state.
In Little Princes, a young man, who has spent the last eight years since college working and saving his money, with few expenses and no responsibility towards anyone but himself, decides to spend his savings on a year of travel around the world. First, however, he decides he will do some volunteer work in an orphanage in Nepal, which is in the throes of a civil war. Naïve about the conditions in Nepal, he sets off to pursue his goal. This book is the tale of his experience, his adjustment and his new dream to save the children that he encounters there. It is a heartwarming, touching story about the orphans of Nepal. These children are used as pawns in transactions that betray their parents and make unscrupulous people rich and/or powerful. The book is about how he rises to the challenges before him. He does things that most of us wish we could but cannot summon up the courage.
Conor spends three months volunteering in an orphanage for children who have been sold into bondage by parents who are trying to save their lives or provide them with a better future. These men prey on the ignorance and fear of the parents. When a man offers to rescue the children, they gladly pay his fee, sell their homes to do it, and hope for the best. One man, Golkka, is politically well connected and corrupt. He has been trafficking in children, in Nepal, for years and plans to continue, protected by highly placed associates. Conor soon learns of the inner workings of a country torn by civil war and turmoil.
After his three month stint, he travels the world for a year and then, drawn back to the children, he returns to the orphanage for another three month stint. He is selflessly devoted to them and tries to help rescue others. When civil unrest grows worse and his three months are once again over, he returns to America.
A short time later, he finds that the children he thought he had saved before leaving, have actually been taken again by Golkka. His conscience bothers him, and finding no satisfaction in his job search, he yearns to return to Nepal and the children who have been abandoned by their families and their government and attempt to reunite them. The sweet innocence of the children, tried so harshly by life already, will capture your heart as well. Conor's goals will capture your soul. His quest to reunite the children with their families will read like a novel. It will be hard to believe that such things really take place in the world.
I loved this book. Unlike Three Cups of Tea, in which Greg Mortensen couldn't resist including his politics, which turned me off, this book is written completely from the heart, blames and bashes no particular party or politician but rather concentrates on the plight of the children and their path to safety.
I had the distinct feeling that G-d had a hand in the rescue of many of the children, even though they had been abandoned or they would not have been in such sorry circumstances. Conor seems to witness miracles occurring! He finds a soul mate on the internet who is interested in helping orphans. Things come together for him and he is able to proceed with his efforts, although he has great difficulty accomplishing his goals because Nepal is not America and things are accomplished slowly and with great difficulty. There is corruption everywhere and the people are so preoccupied with surviving that the plight of the children has fallen off the radar screen.
This book is written with sincerity and honesty. It is as if you are overhearing a conversation. There is romance, humor, and betrayal. Conor makes it sound like what he is doing is commonplace, almost naturally easy for him. The story is told in a very matter of fact way, and yet he faces danger and intrigue everyday he is in Nepal from various corners, from illness to enemies. His efforts to found the Next Generation Nepal, for orphaned children, is nothing less than heroic. Please read it because it will profoundly affect the way you view the situation in these hotbeds of despair and child abuse.