Welcome to Inspirational Tuesday! A while ago on Facebook, I posted the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved 6,000+ Jews during the Holocaust. Many of you commented you had never heard of him, and it got me thinking: You know the Adam Lanza’s, the evil people of the world. Yet often, for some weird reason, the good people often go overlooked. Every Tuesday, I decided to balance it out by showcasing a courageous and inspiring person. Feel free to comment your requests.
“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies.” -Hub, Secondhand Lions
Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world. The nation recently suffered a ten year Civil War, (1996-2006) waged by the Communist party of Nepal, the Maoists. The war killed about 17,000 people, and left about 100,000 more homeless or displaced. You can read more about the Nepalese Civil War here.
On a whim, in August 2004, average-American guy Conor Grennan left his job at EastWest Institute and spent his life savings to take off on a year-long round-the-world trip. To make his trip sound more noble, he decided to volunteer at an orphanage for the first three months, (and admitted he was led to by guilt.) Not knowing anything about kids, he began his journey in the Little Princes children home in Godawari, Nepal. Unlike what he initially expected, he soon began to enjoy working with the kids – 16 boys and two girls, as he grew to learn more about them.
To continue his initial round the world trip, Grennan had to leave Nepal, but came back exactly a year later, for an additional three months, to spend more time with the kids. During this trip, Grennan shockingly learns that the children at Little Princes weren’t orphaned – they had been trafficked. After researching the situation more deeply, he discovered that about 60% of “orphaned” children in Nepal were trafficked, and had one or even both parents living.
During the country’s civil war, Maoist insurgents began forcing each family to give one child to the rebel army. Traffickers took advantage of desperate parents who wanted to protect their children. Promising safety and an education, traffickers would not only take the parent’s money (who often sold all they had to send their children to what they thought was safety), but pimp the children out as street beggars, or house them in illegal orphanages and take donations from kind but unknowing foreigners. The 18 original Little Princes children were safe, and they had taken in seven more displaced children. Before they could find homes for the seven children, it was once again time for Grennan to leave.
Back home, to his distress, Grennan learned that the seven children had been kidnapped.“That’s when I realized that I had no choice but to go back and look for them, because nobody else was going to look for them,” Grennan said. After some thinking and researching, he founded the non-profit Next Generation Nepal (NGN), an organization dedicated to reuniting Nepalese children with their families. He stayed in the USA to raise money, and soon raised enough money to go back to Nepal, and rent a little home.
Miraculously, Conor found all seven of the children, and even met his future wife, Liz, along the way. (I should also note he became a Christian during this time too!) Since then, NGN has helped reunite find over 400 displaced children and helped permanently reunite over 100 Nepalese families who had originally thought their children were dead or missing forever. You can read more stories about the organization on their site.
This year, I’ve learned about everything from North Korean prison camps to the Rwandan genocide. However, I’ve never read much on Nepal. (I actually feel embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know Nepal bordered China.) I listened to Little Princes on audiobook, which was read by the author, and felt like he was in my living room telling me his story. It was personable, well written, and I fell in love with Conor’s humorous personality. I would highly recommend it!