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A Photographer Was Documenting Honolulu’s Homeless When She Made A Life Changing Discovery

Diana Kim, a photographer and law student, did not have the best childhood. Her father had left her family leaving them to hard times. She ended up sleeping from house to house and sometimes even in the parks and cars.

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Kim however eventually created a stable life for herself and settled down in a nice home in Honolulu, Hawaii with her two sons and husband. The only piece of her father that she had left was a love for photography – at least she thought so.

Here is Kim and her dad as a small child.

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The childhood disappointments drove Kim to pursue a career in law and advocacy, mainly for the homeless. She started a project called The Homeless Paradise, which is photographing and interviewing its homeless population. She started in 2003 in her first year of college.

She came across this homeless man dressed in rags and obviously mentally unstable. But she recognized him immediately.

Homeless discovery
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“I gravitated towards the homeless because in some ways I identified with their struggle,” she explains. “I knew what it meant to be discarded, to be neglected, and to not have the stability and economic freedom I wanted. Overall, I understood their struggle because I struggled in the same way.”

She soon made a heart-wrecking discovery.

This was her father.

Homeless discovery
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Kim’s father had been hanging out on the street corner for days, staring at an emptiness arguing with nothing. Even worse he didn’t even recognize Kim as his daughter. When she tried to communicate with him someone standing close by told her, “Don’t bother. He has been standing there for days.” Kim simply responded, “I have to try.”

Kim spent the next 2 years returning to that corner. She kept trying to get some sort of breakthrough with him but nothing could break through his severe schizophrenia.

Homeless discovery
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