Commentary: Homeless at 9, artist at 15

July 11, 2012

Mona AlvaradoFrazier

By Mona AlvaradoFrazier / Guest contributor

1 in 45 kids is homeless in the U.S.

What can you do for 1?

This is Inocente…

“In San Diego, a young teenage girl’s eyes stare into a compact mirror. She paints a dramatic black swirl around her eye. She never knows what her day will bring, but she knows at least it will always begin with paint.”


Inocente has been homeless since she was nine, along with three siblings and her mother. After escaping physical violence, she found shelters, but despair took its toll. Her mother took her up to the S.D. bridge where she told her and her siblings to jump with her. Inocente stopped her mother.

An award-winning film documentary, of the same name, illustrates her rocky journey from violence, instability and despair to her dream of becoming an artist.Inocente tells you how it feels to be homeless, the conflicts, her fears, her hopes, and her art.

But, there is a rock in the road. Although the documentary won awards the producers need more funds for community screenings, marketing, making free downloadable companion curricula for teachers and creating an arts workshop template for community organizations.

Homelessness among children contributes to juvenile and adult crime. We know that poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socio-emotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.

What can we do to help one kid, two, possibly more?

The directors have placed their film project up on Kickstarter. It’s a fundraising site. Inocente is described as “Neither sentimental nor sensational, INOCENTE will immerse you in the very real, day-to-day existence of a young girl who is battling a war that we never see. This film will usher you into the secret life she returns to at the end of every day…”


The challenges are staggering, but the hope in Inocente’s story proves that her circumstances do not define her–her dreams do.

“I have a lot of impossible dreams, but I still dream them…I don’t know if I’m a strong person…”

Yes, I’d say she’s epitomizes a strong young woman.

Inocente’s story has resonated with me and I hope it touches you. Her story is the story of thousands of kids who had hope and who dreamed. Some made it and some did not. I hope and pray that Inocente and her family makes it out of shelters into a home of their own and that her art and stories make it into galleries and the film watching world.

Just so you know where your $10 (or more) donation goes to:

“Shine Global is a 501(c)3 non-profit film production company dedicated to making films and other media aimed at raising awareness, inspiring action, and promoting change. All contributions to this project are tax deductible through Shine Global and will go to finishing INOCENTE. All profits Shine’s films make are returned to the children we document through partner organizations working on the ground.”

My hope is for Inocente’s film to be funded and spread far and wide. I’ll be on the lookout for her gallery showings. Follow the Facebook page.

Art inspires, so does compassion. I hope you are moved by Inocente’s story.

— To see more work by Mona AlvaradoFrazier, visit

One Response to Commentary: Homeless at 9, artist at 15

  1. Amada on July 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you,Mona. Beautiful article and a lovely reminder for us that, yes, we can all do a little something if we have compassion.

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