According to the UN, 1.2 million children are trafficked for child labor each year. And in Nepal, an estimated 7,000-10,000 are transported across borders.
That trade was fueled partly by the country's civil war from 1996 to 2006. Parents who feared their children would be forced to fight fell victim to tantalizing promises from traffickers, who offered to take children to a safe location where they'd supposedly be educated and later returned.
But as Conor Grennan found when he spent time in Nepal, that's not exactly what happened. We speak with Grennan, author of "Little Princes: One Man's Promise To Bring Home The Lost Children of Nepal," he's also founder of Next Generation Nepal.
Book Excerpt: Little Princes: One Man's Promise To Bring Home The Lost Children of Nepal
By: Conor Grennan
December 20, 2006
IT WAS WELL AFTER nightfall when I realized we had gone the wrong way. The village I had been looking for was somewhere up the mountain. In my condition, it would be several hours’ walk up a rocky trail, if we could even find the trail in the pitch-dark. My two porters and I had been walking for thirteen hours straight. Winter at night in the mountains of northwestern Nepal is bitterly cold, and we had no shelter. Two of our three flashlights had burned out. Worse, we were deep in a Maoist rebel stronghold, not far from where a colleague had been kidnapped almost exactly one year before. I would have shared this fact with my porters, but we were unable to com¬municate; I spoke only a few words of the local dialect.
Exhausted, I slumped down beside them. I zipped up my jacket and knotted my arms tightly around my chest to keep out the cold. Six days had passed since I split from my team. I had sent them home, back to their vil¬lages, promising them that I would be okay. My guide, Rinjin, tried to stay with me. Just to make sure the helicopter comes, he had said. I assured him everything would be fine and pushed him to leave with the others. The trek back to their villages would take the men several days, and they had been away from their families for almost three weeks. Rinjin had taken a last look at the empty sky, shaken his head at my stubbornness, and clasped my hand in farewell. Then he hurried to catch up with the others already descending the trail.
I reached into my bag, looking for food. I pushed aside the weather¬beaten folder, crammed with my handwritten notes and photos of young children, children who had been taken from these mountains years before. The notes had been my only clues to finding their families in remote villages accessible only by foot.
Behind a crumpled, rain-stained map, my hand touched two tanger¬ines—the last of our food. I passed them to the two porters.
I wondered how things would have been different if I hadn’t gotten hurt. or if I hadn’t split from my team, or if I hadn’t decided to wait on that moun¬tain for a helicopter that never came. It didn’t matter now. What did matter was figuring out how we would get through the night.
Copyright Conor Grennan.
This segment aired on May 20, 2011.