When Home Is The Street Documentary Film
Danielle Strickland has spent the better part of her life reaching out to youth living on the streets in Latin America.
Those years, she thought, had numbed her emotions to anything she would ever witness. But helping to film the documentary Quando a Casa é a Rua (When Home Is the Street) unleashed new emotions in Strickland, and challenged her ability to love, forgive, and show compassion in surprising ways.
“I went into it thinking we were going to enlighten the world and we, instead, were enlightened,” said Strickland, director of the nonprofit CODENI, which provides assistance to street children in Guadalajara, Mexico. “We needed patience and compassion because it was very emotionally draining to hear these stories and see these conditions.”
Strickland and Irene Rizzini, professor and researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, said documenting these stories through the eyes of filmmaker Thereza Jessouroun was difficult but successful.
“Sometimes I think I’ve become numb. I’ve seen so much that I don’t let my emotions take hold when I see a 10-year-old drugged up by a pedophile,” said Strickland. “But when you’re with someone who sees it for the first time, it’s powerful.”
The film was unveiled internationally at the Fetzer Institute’s Global Gathering in Assisi, Italy. It documents the stories of four youth from Rio de Janeiro and Guadalajara. The young people share how they came to live on the streets and how love and forgiveness are helping them break free from a life of drugs, prostitution, and crime.
“With governments, NGOs, and local agencies working together, it is possible to change the street culture and for children to have structure and access to quality education,” said Fetzer Program Officer Xiaoan Li. “There’s a strong desire [in] the hearts of children--they want to have opportunities."
Strickland said she hopes the film will help change public perceptions of those who are homeless, "so they’re not seen with pity or fear, but as regular human beings.”
Rizzini said her focus now is sharing the documentary with a larger audience, beginning with U.S. screenings in Boston and New York are planned for early 2013. Brazil is hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016. With the country’s government elections also in 2013, Rizzini is hopeful the film will serve as a catalyst for love, compassion--and change.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Education.