Homelessness is everywhere, even in paradise.
And Diana Kim is a photographer in Hawaii, getting out there, capturing it all. She learned the ins-and-outs and developed a passion for the trade from her father, who used to own a studio when she was younger.
But as many good things do, her parents’ marriage dissolved and came to an end, leaving Kim to bounce around, and stay with relatives and friends for years.
She told NBC News her father became “absent.”
“I always thought of it as ‘roughing it,’ so it didn’t really bother me,” she said. “My survival instincts were always strong.”
As a college student in 2003, she began to document the lives of homeless people in her community Nearly 10 years later, while shooting on the streets of Honolulu, she recognized one of the homeless men.
It was her father.
The moment she realized it was him was “devastating,” Kim recalled.
Kim’s father suffered from severe schizophrenia, and had lost considerable weight.
“I can’t count the number of times I sat next to my father on the street, wondering how his future would look like,” she told NBC News. “I would sit there and pray quietly, just asking for a miracle and wishing that he would accept assistance. He would refuse to get treatment, take any medications, eat, bathe, or wear new clothes. I wasn’t sure if he would get better. There were times when I thought he would die there on that street.”
That was until one day, when a Good Samaritan phoned in a call to 911: Kim’s father had suffered a heart attack.
The heart attack ultimately saved his life, and got him on the treatment plan he needed to lead a healthy life.
Kim used her unique experience with her father as a jumping off point for “The Homeless Paradise,” a photo book project and opportunity to raise money to distribute CARE Medical History Bracelets, bracelets with digitized versions of an individuals’ important documents and identity information.
“Every day is a gift,” said Kim. “Some days are more challenging than others, but seeing my father in the flesh is a constant reminder of the strength of the human spirit and how precious life is. I never had a relationship with my father growing up, and there was a lot he did and didn’t do that hurt me, but I have chosen to forgive him so we can move forward.”
Watch the full YouTube videos credited above: Showing My Dad the Homeless Article via Diana Kim / Homeless Paradise, Meeting Vincent in Honolulu via Diana Kim / Homeless Paradise, Memory Lane via Diana Kim / Homeless Paradise