Photographer Diana Kim works to help the homeless population of Honolulu, and her reasons are quite personal.
Diana was very young when her father left. She spent the remainder of her childhood bouncing around from the homes of relatives and friends to the occasional car or park.
The Oahu, Hawaii resident told Huffington Post she found her way back to her father in 2012 after her grandmother told her her father was living on the streets.
At that moment, the photographer decided to seek out her father for the first time in many years. She found him on the streets of Honolulu, living destitute and detached due to mental illness.
In an interview with NBC, Kim recalled the moment she discovered her father. She said,
When I walked up to him and I called out to him and he didn't respond, there was a woman who came up to me and she said, 'Don't even bother trying, he's been standing there for days. It's what he does.' And that was this intensity, this feeling… It was this anger. I wanted to yell at her… You know, she didn't know that I was his daughter… And walking away was always the hardest part.
Kim, who began photographing homeless people before she knew her father ranked among them, continued to visit her father on the streets of Honolulu and photograph his existence, hoping to slowly break down the wall between them and move his life forward.
The 30-year-old told Hawaii Public Radio,
I was coming from the outside view because I just didn't know who this person was. I'm in a position where I've spent a lot of time with the homeless, long before my dad landed on the streets. This is my opportunity to try to be his advocate and to try to go ahead and help this man who is my dad.
One day, two years into her efforts, Kim discovered her father was at the hospital. He had suffered a heart attack.
It was there, she says, he at last started treatment for his mental illness and regained his spirit.
Kim now works to help her father regain his independence, reportedly taking him to get a new driver's license and help him return to his career as a cab driver.
While her father resides in an assisted-living facility and works toward small milestones, the mother of two knows to take it slow.
Kim even introduced him to his two grandsons.
She told HPR,
Even though he's doing better, I still see that there are days when he does struggle with maintaining his treatment plan. And because now he's becoming more independent, he has that ability to choose.
Kim still works to improve the lives of members of the homeless population of Honolulu, launching a Kickstarter to fund a photo book documenting the lives of these individuals and, with any luck, provide them with USB bracelets containing digital copies of their essential documents.
The activist reminds those who do not have loved ones suffering the plight of homelessness those relegated to living on the streets deserve compassion.
On her blog, she wrote,
I oddly accept that the homeless condition will never completely go away…But no matter what the circumstances are, the most important thing to remember is that they are people. And people deserve to be treated with respect even if they've hurt you.