(TRIBUNE MEDIA WIRE) – According to The National Network for Youth, there is an estimated 4.2 million homeless youth living in America.
These are some of the statistics that filmmaker Rotimi Rainwater cites in his up-and-coming documentary film, ‘Lost In America,’ about the lives of youth living on the street in the United States. “Seven-hundred thousand of those youth are under the age of 18. Seventy-five percent of homeless youth get propositioned for sex within the first 48 hours. Hundreds of thousands of youth are trafficked every year and 5000 youth die in America every year,” said Rotimi.
Rotimi, who said he also experienced homelessness in his youth after serving in the army, explained that while he was on the streets, he met a lot of really incredible people and had a lot of experiences that have formed who he is as a human being now. So when he finally got a voice to be able to tell stories make films, he knew he wanted to make films and tell the stories that move people. He added that he has found it extremely disturbing that there is very little effort being taken to tackle this issue, so he hopes that this film can inspire people to pay more attention and take action.
“Every one of these youth is asking for help … we are so disgusted about it as a nation that way we make invisible,” Rotimi said. “We don’t look.”
Rotimi spent time with 30 different young people in 15 cities and each one of them had unique stories, but they all shared the same thing, he said – at some time in their life someone who cared about them or should’ve cared about them either hurt them or weren’t there for them.
Rotimi said other homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and have been kicked out of their homes after coming out to their parents. Others became homeless after aging out of the foster care system and not having a place to go.
“So many kids get lost,” Rotimi said. “The reason that everyone in America should care not just about this film but more importantly about this issue is because these are our kids. You know if we are in American society, and we take care of our own, then there’s no reason the 4.2 million youths should be on the streets of America- ever.”