Buy this book --you will be contributing to Next Generation Nepal. Conor Grennan co-founded this organization with Farid Ait-Mansour in 2006 to re-unite the lost children of Nepal with their families. (--and buy it from independent local booksellers)
Nepal underwent a bloody civil war 1996-2006 that left the country even more desperately poor than it when it started --it is one of the poorest and least economically developed countries in the world. A very rugged, mountainous terrain (including Mt. Everest or Sagarmāthā) isolates most mountain valleys from the capital Kathmandu. During the war child traffickers solicited payments from anxious parents to "place" their children in safe situations in Kathmandu, but in reality dumped the children on the street and pocketed the money. Thousands of children were traumatically separated from their parents in this manner, and war, poverty, and the difficulty of travel prevented parents from finding them. The children were frequently mistreated, starved, and enslaved, and aid organizations could not begin to keep pace with the need for relief.
Grennan embarked on a round-the-world trip in 2004 after eight years at the East-West Institute in Prague and Brussels, working on post-conflict reconciliation in the Balkans. He wound up volunteering for three months at Little Princes Orphanage in Godawari, near Kathmandu. It changed his life, but he didn't realize how much until he continued his travels elsewhere. In 2005 he returned to the children but was forced to leave in the chaotic last months of the war in April 2006. Back in the United States, he found himself starting a non-profit organization to reunite seven Nepalese children he had met in 2006 with their families in Humla, perhaps the most remote region high in the far northwest corner of Nepal.
Next Generation Nepal took shape in 2006 when he returned after raising money and rented a house in cooperation with the Umbrella Foundation, a non-profit already working in Nepal. Farid and Grennan founded Dhaulagiri House (named after one of the highest mountains) with six of the seven children he had encountered in 2006 (the seventh was found later). When travel became safe Grennan set out for Humla just as winter weather came in December 2006. Travelling by foot with a guide party and an injured knee, Grennan actually found many of the parents of the children in Godawari and began the slow process of reacquainting parents and children separated by years of war.
Meanwhile Grennan corresponded with Elizabeth Flanagan, a fellow UVA alum who had volunteered at a orphanage in Zambia. She understood the depth of Grennan's passionate commitment to his work and throughout the book their relationship (via e-mail and in person) deepens until he proposes. In 2007 Grennan and Flanagan return to the United States to continue their work, and today they live in Connecticut with their children.
Part advocacy and personal travelogue, part social history, part adventure, part love-story, Grennan's book recounts his unexpected journey from being "just a normal guy," fun-loving in college (according to his friend Josh Arbaugh) to tireless advocacy, to an understated Christian faith, and to unstinting devotion to children. Grennan embraced his work seriously enough to study at the New York University Stern School of Business, graduating with an M.B.A. in 2010 so that he could better manage this organization.
Conor Grennan will be speaking at Sacred Heart University on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, sponsored by the University Library and the Common Core Curriculum.