One of the challenges of having my story shared beyond my personal blog has been the misconceptions in the media of how I “found” my father. I hope that this post helps to address any confusion or inconsistencies. The NBC interview is the most accurate and comprehensive interview in the media — all other articles were quotes pulled from my blog without my review.
My parents separated when I was very little, and my father was absent throughout my entire life. I learned that my father was suffering from a severe mental illness when my late-grandmother had reached out to me. At that time, I had not spoken to my father in years.
I had been actively working on a documentary photographic project on homelessness since 2003, and never expected my father to become homeless.
In my first post made in July 2014, I shared:
“He is homeless in paradise because he was evicted from his apartment by his landlord and the building manager. He was evicted because he had not been bathing for months, and was a ‘nuisance’ to his neighbors. He was not bathing because he suffers from a severe mental illness, and continues to hear voices in his head telling him to not bathe.”
In the same July 2014 post, I went on to describe the overwhelming experience of seeing my father on the streets.
“I will never forget the day I saw him on the street after I had returned from my Fellowship in D.C. I had serendipitously run into a homeless services director while working in D.C., and was able to gather tidbits of my father’s health status and living arrangements. I had learned that the Legal Aid Society was not able to provide services to assist him with the fair housing issue. His case must have somehow fell through the cracks. So, on my first week back in Hawai`i, I braced myself for the worst as I drove around looking for him. I found him standing at the corner of a busy intersection staring into the asphalt. His hair was matted and his head rolled in small circles. My throat felt like it was on fire, as I stood paralyzed behind him.”
I understand that the timeline and sequence of events may be a little confusing. I did not “find” my father while walking around with a camera to photograph homeless persons. I witnessed the consequences of my father’s severe mental illness and what that meant as a homeless person in Hawai`i.
Thank you for taking the time to read this very important post. I hope that it clears up any misconceptions, and please feel free to comment and share with others if you feel it is needed.