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Young Lives at Risk on the Street

Hilary Duffy | Mexico & Central America

Young street boy smoking. Guatemala City

This project depicts the environments and dangers that Central American homeless and runaway children face.

Thousands of neglected children wander the streets tangled in drugs and homelessness throughout the region. They are runaways from dysfunctional families, neglect, poverty and abuse. As a means of survival, they work in the city’s garbage dumps, collecting recyclables or metal scraps worth pennies. They exhaust their bodies and their minds, while also sacrificing their right to an education. They sleep on sidewalks with each other or hidden in drainpipes. They roam the streets barefoot and survive by begging, stealing, and performing menial labor. Often coerced and manipulated, many are sexually exploited and trafficked or prey to gangs. Many have no access to healthcare.

These children have become victims of the global crisis of trafficked youth, they are prey to gangs and brutal police forces, or resort to desperate and dangerous measures to migrate alone to the North.

My goal is to spread public awareness by illustrating the reality of what these youth endure and be an agent for change.

This project was produced in partnership with Covenant House Latin America street outreach workers, social workers and the youth who agreed to voice their struggles and communicate messages to their peers.

Covenant House International in Mexico City, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Managua

Hilary Duffy




A recipient of the ICP/Johnson & Johnson Fellowship in 2002, Hilary completed an assignment on non-governmental organizations at the U.S.-Mexico border. This led to subsequent assignments for Johnson & Johnson to photograph their Worldwide Contributions Program and for various NGOs in the U.S., Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and tsunami-affected regions. Hilary is committed to the issue of homeless youth and their rehabilitation, and collaborated on a multimedia project with Covenant House/México & Central America. Her photographs are on permanent exhibit at Covenant House Headquarters in New York City and have been featured on Media Voices for Children and PhotoPhilanthropy.

Habitat for Humanity, The Fresh Air Fund, Heifer, MAP International, AmeriCares, UN Women, UNHCR and the Clinton Foundation are amongst her NGO clients.

Hilary’s photographs have been exhibited in Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala and the U.S. She is represented by Corbis and has recently been selected into the National Geographic Image Collection (Readers' Collection).

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