Author Conor Grennan finds calling in Nepal orphanage

The Daily News

Conor Grennan, author of “Little Princes,” is seen with the family of one of the children that he rescued in a village in Nepal. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CONOR GRENNAN
Conor Grennan, author of “Little Princes,” is seen with the family of one of the children that he rescued in a village in Nepal. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CONOR GRENNAN

When author Conor Grennan set off for his journey around the world, the last thing he expected to happen was to fall in love. Grennan would later write not a romance novel, but a story about how he fell in love with a group of young orphans, once enslaved through human trafficking, who he was determined to give a home.

Nine years ago, the 29-year-old Grennan was living temporarily in Prague with no plans to settle down any time soon when he made the quick decision to travel for fun.

“Writing ‘Little Princes’ happened by accident, really,” he said. “I was keeping a blog as I traveled around the world and wrote a lot about Nepal. But later, it became a way to keep people informed about the work we were doing in Nepal in the early days of Next Generation Nepal.”

Grennan’s excursion in 2004 led him to volunteer at the Little Princes Children’s Home in a village in Nepal, Godawari. He was welcomed with open arms by the children — who later viewed Grennan as a father-figure, he said — and learned their stories and customs.

He found out the children were victims of child trafficking. They had been taken by a man named Golkka from a district in northern Nepal. Golkka had taken the children from their families, promising to give the children a better home and an education. Instead, Golkka sold the children into slavery.

“I found it difficult to control my anger against this man, who seemed to be getting away with this, making a profit off the lives of the children,” Grennan said.

After leaving Nepal and finishing his trip around the world, Grennan felt like his job in Nepal was not finished. In 2006, he began Next Generation Nepal, an organization that reconnects trafficked children with their parents. Grennan fundraised and found sponsors, and eventually, he raised enough money to go back to Nepal several times and build a new home for the children called Dhaulagiri House, which takes its name from one of the tallest mountains in the Himalayas.

While Grennan attended business school, an article appeared in Readers Digest about his work in Nepal, and he was asked by a literary agent to write a book based on the blog he had already.

“That made it a quite easy book to write, much of it came from the blog and my notes,” he said.

After being published in 2011, “Little Princes” has been published in 12 languages.

“It’s incredible knowing that so many people have read about these little kids,” Grennan said. “It’s also put a spotlight on this issue of child trafficking.”

Since Grennan’s first trip to Nepal, he has found and helped to save the lives of many trafficked children in Nepal. He went on to find the deceased family members of the children at Little Princes and the Dhaulagiri House, bringing back interviews, pictures and letters to the children.

Grennan will speak at 7:30 tonight at John R. Emens Auditorium as part of the Freshman Common Reader program. This is a free event for all students.

“I hope people take away that you don’t have to be somebody special to do this kind of work,” Grennan said. “You just have to show up and offer whatever you can. You’ll find you can do amazing things when you do that.”

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