At the center of Santiago’s Children is the author’s struggle to try to make a contribution in a complicated world.
Feel free to react, comment on things that intrigue or provoke you or ask questions about the challenges Chile faced in the 1980s or those it faces today. You might also want to share how the book relates to your own challenges or aspirations with engaging in the world – whether it be about your studies, volunteer opportunities or career plans. Readers are encouraged to leave comments on Facebook or on Amazon.
Below are highlights of readers’ comments posted on Facebook and on Amazon:
Cherished by readers
Very poignant, witty sense of humor, and full of lessons to take to heart!!
-Andres Model (September 3, 2011 on Amazon)
An engaging memoir
This is an amazing book you wrote! I never thought I would like a memoir so much, usually theyre not as good and funny, but this one, has us very into it. I thank you for writing such a good book! and making our lives easier by having to read an interesting book for a college class 🙂
–Lore Lopez (September 5, 2011 on Facebook)
Enjoyed by nonreaders
Never been much of a reader but after going through the first six chapters I really enjoy this book and can’t seem to put it down! I am looking forward to attending your presentation at TAMIU and hearing about all your experiences!
-David Lopez (September 7, 2011 on Facebook)
I’m currently on Chapter 7 and so far I am enjoying the book. I am really excited to meet Mr. Reifenberg to hear what he as to say about his experience in Chile. It’s not really the same reading the book and actually hearing his perspective. I never read much but, this book really grabbed my attention and I cant seem to put it down.
-Franky Adams (September 6, 2011 on Facebook)
I just finished Santiago’s Children and I just want to go back and read it all again. Steve Reifenberg has written a book that opens the door into a period in a young man’s life as he takes risks in discovering his life journey as well into a time in Chile’s history in which the country began its new path. And rippling throughout the book are the stories of the children at the orphanage as they make sense of their lives.
What is most remarkable about this book is how it weaves together Reifenberg’s self-deprecating humor, the life force and tragedy of the children, the courage of the founder of the orphanage, the quiet fear of the government, and the growing courage of Chileans as they demand greater justice in their lives.
Honestly, I can almost see and hear the laughing yelling of the children as they follow along with Reifenberg on his runs, the beating of pots and pans in the evening sky, and the precious conversations with the children as they open up their lives and hearts.
This is a definite must-read. It is also one of those rare books that would make a great present to just about anyone.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
-C. Sturgis (September 28, 2008 on Amazon)
Recommended for those considering international volunteering
Santiago’s Children, is a fantastic book that gives amazing insight into the daily life, of working with children in poverty. The Author Steve Reifenberg does an excellent job of portraying the children with the dignity. He does not hold back any of the challenges that faced them at the Hogar (Group Home) he presents each challenge they faced with truth, dignity, and hope. This gives the book a wonderful positive edge, and a compelling, suspense that keeps a person reading all the way to the end.
My wife and I read this book while on a Catholic Mission at a different Hogar (Group Home) in Santiago, Chile in 2009, but as always the more things change the more they stay the same. Steve was able to truly touch our hearts with many of his stories in the book, the cultural differences, the language barriers, and the food differences. These were all things that we struggled with as well, also the parts about parental involvement. Therefore, it is my recommendation that if you have been on mission or are considering mission in Latin America than you should read this wonderful book that warms the heart.
I truly believe that anyone considering Mission in Latin America, should they be Catholic, Protestant, or any other group, should read this book. It had the effect of normalizing so many things for us, and making things ok.
-Matthew L. Costanti (February 22, 2010 on Amazon)
A window into international realities and volunteer experiences
My daughter is serving as a volunteer in Santiago and has met the author, Steve Reifenberg. She was exuberant in her recommendation of his book. I must confess to living a sheltered life, and marvel at my daughter’s generation for their passion for world travel, service and adventure. For those of us who haven’t experienced the other half of the world, this is a wonderful window into the reality of it: its heartache of loving and struggling for the sake of children, as well as the cultural and political challenges. I believe that the hope of peace for our planet will be nurtured as we get to know our neighbors in this ever shrinking global community. Steve Reifenberg’s book puts a human face on our global neighborhood. This book will stir your heart.
And it makes a doubly good gift, because Reifenberg donates the profits from this book to the children of Santiago, Chile: two gifts for the price of one.
-Giman Healy (October 2, 2009 on Amazon)
One of the most difficult things for persons who engage in meaningful international volunteerism is balancing the reality of the limitations on what they can actually accomplish with the idealism, energy and commitment to doing good that brought them to the decision to volunteer in the first place. “Santiago’s Children” is a wonderful narration that paints one international volunteering experience with honesty and insight across the what will be for potential volunteers and others curious about international volunteering a surprisingly broad mix of experiences, successful and unsuccessful, that this particular volunteer had during his years at the orphanage in Chile. Probably even more importantly, this book shows how the volunteer experience can transform the volunteer in unexpectedly profound ways.
As the Executive Director of an NGO that sends volunteers to teach in developing countries, I have been looking for a book to send to our incoming volunteers to give them a realistic sense of what sorts of experiences lie ahead for them, as well as to show them how serious service can change their lives. We have decided on “Santiago’s Children”.
-HCS (May 30, 2008 on Amazon)
Tears were streaming down my face
I finished Santiago’s Children last night and am completely amazed by what the author accomplished. It is easily one of the most memorable books I have ever read. In fact, I was shocked to see that it was his first book. Not only is this true story impressive and engaging, but the writing is so well crafted. When a non-fiction – which characteristically are inherently missing the structured plot development – can keep me totally engrossed and continually looking forward to the next chapter, then something remarkable has been achieved. Of course, the remarkable thing is that Steve made me care about the children and about young Steve. The clear fact that he feels such affection for the kids, and expressed that so richly, made me love them also. I found myself wanting to follow them through the rest of their lives and not wanting the author to leave Santiago. When he said his final good-byes, tears were streaming down my face, along with all of them. I give this outstanding book the highest possible recommendation.
-Brian McLaughlin (March 19, 2009 on Amazon)
Heightens awareness of international events
Reading this book definitely started opening my eyes to the troubles out there. It made me want to be aware of the conditions faced by foreign lands. Just a few minutes ago my local TV station passed a report on Santiago, Chile. Apparently there’s a protest going on. Today marks a important date to the Chileans. Water cannons were being used.. much like in your book. My eyes are definitely looking at things I wouldn’t actually care about beforehand. Thank you.
– Ray Macias (September 12, 2011 on Facebook)
A lifelong self-understanding and calling
I read Santiago’s children coming from two places :
First as an avid reader of autobiographies. This one will remain a gem in my memories. It is seldom that one finds a life story so well written, funny, terribly moving, sad, authentic and yet so humble. Reifenberg takes you from the first chapter to the very last page through numerous simple – yet incredible – everyday life stories in Chile. This book combines epics from the childhood of Chilean orphans, their wonderful “mama”, Chilean history and includes Reifenberg’s own story in the background. I roared with laughter, was moved to tears, even sobbed and did not want this unforgettable book to finish. A must read for anyone!
Secondly relating to the book as a career counselor. I wish that the choices my clients made could often take this path of self-reflection, as long, thorough and difficult as it may be. But where in the end one senses that the person has found his or her core values, the ones that will enable them a fulfilling career and life. Reifenberg seems to have set the ground for a lifelong self-understanding and calling during those two years in Chile.
-Florence Kehrer (July 10, 2008 on Amazon)