Rocklin teacher, author, finds inspiration in Nepal
A retired Rocklin teacher is spending his retirement raising awareness about the plight of orphaned children in Nepal.
Lawrence Brown, who started teaching at Rocklin Elementary School in 1965, recently published “A Journey Home: A Story of Nepal.” The book, published in Nepal, is a compilation of sorts, comprised of the stories of children Brown met at Butterfly Home, an eight-child orphanage in Nepal.
“This is kind of an attempt to have people learn about the children in Nepal,” Brown explained. “There was a 10-year civil war, and it completely destroyed the infrastructure in the countryside. And you have something like maybe 50,000 kids on the streets in the cities.”
“A Journey Home” tells the fictional story of two of those children, Amar and Sushil, who for different and complex reasons have found themselves alone in Nepal. In danger of being sold to the circus, they run away and find refuge in the home of an American lawyer and his Irish housekeeper. The lawyer, recently divorced because he doesn’t want children, finds himself in the position of his new Nepalese family.
Brown first traveled to Nepal upon his retirement in 2005. He was so taken with the country and its people that he has since traveled back 13 times, most recently a month ago.
In addition to his work with Butterfly Home, Brown is also associate director of the travel agency Himalayan Dreams, and has journeyed to Northern India, including Darjeeling and Sikkim.
Ram Chetri, Brown’s partner at Himalayan Dreams, said Brown’s deep understanding of Nepal makes “A Journey Home” an important tool to raise awareness, both in the U.S. and Nepal.
“The book is important for Nepal,” Chetri said. “It’s a good read for any Nepalese students. They will understand their own place, culture, in a better way. For the U.S., it will be a good read to understand the culture, nature, people and society of Nepal.”
Another colleague in Nepal, Pradeep Raai, compared the novel to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” another tale of two young boys on a life-changing journey.
“It is simple, really,” Raai said. “Mr. Brown, according to me, loves three things greatly: travel/adventure, children and Nepal. Probably in the same order. ‘A Journey Home’ is all about that.”
Raai added that the book could help dispel myths and prejudices about Nepal, pointing out that although the U.S. Embassy there is quick to post warnings about traveling there, not a single American was harmed during the civil war.
“I think this book presents Nepal in a new light,” he said. “It talks about the real Nepalese people who are not just fabled Himalayan people riding mules and donkey trains.”
Brown still makes time to visit Rocklin Elementary when he’s home; he recently spent a morning reading to a third-grade class in the school library.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” library aide Iris Donovan said of “A Journey Home.” “It taught me a lot of things I didn’t know about the children there. It does make you think.”
With “A Journey Home” published overseas, Brown is now looking for a publisher here, and has already penned his second novel. It’s clear he finds plenty of inspiration in the country where he spends so much time.
“I love Nepal, I love the people,” he said. “They’ve been very good to me.”