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Behind the Backdrop of Paradise

USA | Wednesday, 11 August 2010 | Views [616]

I was given the opportunity to photograph a summer camp for homeless and low-income children for the non-profit organization, Project Hawaii.  The program director, Magin Patrick, moved from California to Hawaii in 2002 and only after a few days she found homeless children living on the beaches of this so-called paradise.  So many people wonder how such a beautiful place could be stricken with poverty, but the truth is, Hawaii has the 5th highest poverty rate in the world.

I didn't know what to expect from the children- whether they would be shy, nervous, hurt...but as soon as I got to the camp at Kalopa State Park on the Big Island, I was surrounded by happy and loud children demanding hugs and piggyback rides.  For five days, I took photos, played tag, helped with science projects, and smiled...I smiled a lot.  We think we have it so hard with our lives, but we have it made...all of us.  These children have nothing and yet are so happy aside from their horrible circumstances.

Some of these children did not even know what a toothbrush was or how to wash their hair.  A lot of them also had problems sitting at the table to eat because they don't have tables where they live- they eat on the ground. 

Beaches in Hawaii are full of tanning vacationers but if you travel into the real Hawaii, you will see ripped and worn-out tents housing hundreds of homeless citizens.  On any given day, there are over 1,500 homeless children on the Big Island alone.  This is the United States, and the fact that there are that many homeless children in our country in general is unacceptable.

Magin Patrick is doing all that she can (full-time) to help these children and their families.  There are governmental restrictions (for some reason) that prohibit her from doing certain things such as handing out food to the families at the graduation luau after the summer camp.  Someone try to tell me that this is disturbing and unethical of our government. 

This trip opened my eyes to a whole new world and I realize now that the more you know, the less you need.

Aloha nui loa.


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