|I've worked as
a documentary photographer, videographer and writer for more than
20 years. While visiting Los Angeles in 1993, I met gang members who
had come to the US as refugees fleeing the same wars I had covered
as a photojournalist in Central America during the 1980s.
These were young people who had come as my own immigrant family had
escaping poverty and conflict, hoping for a better life. What had
gone wrong for these kids? Why did so many feel they were "destined
to die young?" Why were their American Dreams failing so miserably?
The idea for this website came about as a way of exploring those questions.
I wanted to open a window onto the lives of young people I'd met who
had been abandoned by most of the adults around them. I've visited
many social programs in the United States and Latin America that are
trying to help young people overcome stigmatized identity and the
trauma of witnessing human rights abuses or other kinds of violence.
I work as a journalist publishing my photographs in magazines and
newspapers. I do slideshows and lecture about my work. I have won
awards for my photographs. But the numbers of kids at risk and dying
continues to grow. Over the decade of the 90s the increased deportations
of young people resulting from changing US immigration and criminal
justice policies, spread US gangs throughout Central America.
This website opens with some stories that show both the consequences
of social neglect and the possibilities for making social change.
My aim is to inspire young people and others who read these stories
to take action. The resources listed here are a starting point. You
can find help. You can find out how you can help. These problems affect
our communities throughout the Americas. As my stories show, moving
to another country is not a solution. There are things we all can
do right where we are.
Work by Donna DeCesare on the Web in English:
Interviews with Donna DeCesare in English: