“It’s hard to imagine someone who finds himself an outsider in one of the tougher neighborhoods of Latin America or Africa or other ‘foreign’ parts of the world—or someone interested in learning about one of those places—who would not find this book immensely instructive and moving.”
—Paul Farmer, from the foreword
What I Learned about Life at an Orphanage in Chile
By Steve Reifenberg
Foreword by Paul Farmer
Released April 2008 by University of Texas Press
$24.95 paperback ISBN 978-0-292-71742-8
Unclear about his future career path, Steve Reifenberg found himself in the early 1980s working at a small orphanage in a poor neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, where a determined single woman was trying to create a stable home for a dozen or so children who had been abandoned or abused. With little more than good intentions and very limited Spanish, the 23-year-old Reifenberg plunged into the life of the Hogar Domingo Savio, becoming a foster father to kids who stretched his capacities for compassion and understanding in ways he never could have imagined back in the United States.
In this beautifully written memoir, Reifenberg recalls his two years at the Hogar Domingo Savio. His vivid descriptions create indelible portraits of a dozen remarkable kids. As Reifenberg learns more about the children’s circumstances, he begins to see the bigger picture of life in Chile at a crucial moment in its history.
Reifenberg skillfully interweaves the story of the orphanage with the broader national and international forces that dramatically impact the lives of the kids. By the end of Santiago’s Children, Reifenberg has told an engrossing story not only of his own coming-of-age, but also of the courage and resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of Latin America.
STEVE REIFENBERG lives in Santiago, Chile, where he is the Director of the Regional Office of Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. He has worked on international education and international conflict resolution for nearly two decades.
Scheduled book discussions and signings for “Santiago’s Children”
Portland, OR Thursday, September 25, 7:30 PM
Powell’s Books 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Seattle, WA Saturday, September 27, 6:30 PM
Mt. Zion Baptist Church 1634 19th Avenue
with Seattle author Lora-Ellen Mckinney
in collaboration with Elliot Bay Book Company
Stanford, CA Tuesday, September 30, 12:15 PM
Stanford University’s Center for Latin American Studies
Bolivar House 582 Alvarado Row