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GSSW Sponsors US Debut of Film on Street Children

Irene Rizzini

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Jan. 17, 2013

Robsham Theater will host the US premiere of “When Home Is the Street,” a documentary about efforts to help street children in Mexico and Brazil, on Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

The event, sponsored by the Graduate School of Social Work, will include a talk by Irene Rizzini, who conceived and developed the film. Rizzini is a professor and the director of the International Center for Study and Research on Children — known as CIESPI — at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro; as a Guggenheim fellow, she undertook a comprehensive study of the phenomenon of street children and strategies to help them. GSSW Associate Professor Stephanie Berzin, who chairs the school’s Children, Youth and Families concentration, will moderate the film discussion.

 Directed by award-winning Brazilian filmmaker Thereza Jessouroun, “When Home Is the Street” was funded by the Fetzer Institute, a private foundation that seeks to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.

The 35-minute film depicts the challenges of reintegrating street children into society, focusing on youths in Guadalajara, Mexico, as well as Rio de Janeiro. Interviews with youths — who show themselves to be thoughtful, articulate and philosophical about their situations — describe the danger and degradation of life on the street.
But the documentary also shows how dedicated people are helping these youths to realize their potential, particularly through education. The message of “When Home Is the Street,” Rizzini says, is that these children — whether in Guadalajara, Rio de Janeiro, New York City or Boston — need compassion, support and understanding from society, rather than scorn or indifference.

“We need to show the children how love for them includes reconnecting them to educational opportunities to restore their chance for a future,” said Rizzini. “A second challenge is to convince the general public that street children are full human beings, especially in the sense that they deserve and are capable of a decent future.  
“The film demonstrates this humanity, and the humanity of the people who sincerely care for the children.”
Discussing GSSW’s sponsorship of the event, GSSW Dean Alberto Godenzi explained that the film’s subject matter resonates with the school’s values and mission.

“Our faculty and students have been engaged in innovative community-based projects that contribute to improving the lives of vulnerable populations across the globe,” he said. “This documentary visualizes the hardships of life on the street and it demonstrates how various forms of social support can lead to a better future for marginalized children and youth.”

The film and discussion are free and open to the public, but registration is requested. To register, go to

For more information, contact Executive Director of University Advancement Ellen Sullivan at or ext.2-6818.