We can only imagine her feelings the first time she found out her father has been homeless for such a long time.
Diana Kim, a photographer who has a deep passion for her craft was first introduced to the world of photography by her father when she was still a young girl. Sadly, her childhood wasn’t so great as her parents separated and Kim spent years bouncing between relatives’ homes, including a few years sleeping in parks, cars and with friends.
Years later, she found out from her grandmother that her father had a mental health issue and that he refused to eat, bathe or even take his medications. Soon, her father’s whereabouts became a mystery as no one knows where he went.
In 2003, Kim started working on a photo essay featuring homeless communities around her and 11 years later, she heartbreakingly saw her father among the homeless while shooting her project on the streets of Honolulu in 2012. She then spent her next few years following her father while documenting it at the same time.
Sharing her story with NBC News, Kim said it was “devastating” to see her father’s condition as he has lost a lot of weight.
“A woman came by and told me to ‘not bother,’ because he stood there all day. I wanted to scream at her for not caring, for being so cruel, and not considering that he was my father. But then I realised that anger wouldn’t do anything to change the circumstances we were in — so I turned towards her and said, ‘I have to try.'”
“Photographing my own father actually began as a mechanism of protecting myself at first. I would raise my camera phone in front of me, almost as if that barrier would help keep me together. It hurt to see him like this.
“Some days I would literally just stand there and stare downwards because I couldn’t get myself to see him in the condition he was in. My own flesh and blood, but still such a stranger to me.”
“He suffered from severe schizophrenia, and left untreated, he was not always responsive. There were many instances when it appeared as if he was arguing with someone, but nobody was there.”
Despite his condition, Kim’s father refused to accept anyone’s assistance and at one point, Kim really thought her father would die on the streets.
One day, her father had a heart attack on the street and was taken to the hospital where he received medication there. The bright side was – his mental health conditions were addressed by the doctors as well! It was understood that he has never been off his medication ever since. It’s truly a blessing in disguise!
“My father is doing really well today. He is really proud of the fact that he has overcome such incredible adversity. He has goals, he has hope, and he has the will to succeed. Our relationship today is still very new.
I would like to take him out to watch a movie soon. I have never watched a movie with him! We are taking things day-by-day. Believe it or not, his schedule seems busier than mine sometimes. He likes to help his friends by giving them rides to dentist appointments, and is planning to visit his family in South Korea.”
Although this story was first published in 2015, it’s still one of the most heartwarming stories we’ve come across till today. Don’t you guys agree?
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