ASU students volunteer for online photo project that gives people opportunity, platform to tell their own stories
There are two worlds in downtown Phoenix.
One is filled with skyscrapers, new condos and fancy restaurants. Sidewalks are clear, clean and landscaped. But on 12th Street, the skyline is far off. Homeless people gather in dozens, dragging belongings, pushing shopping carts and shuffling past the city’s Human Services Campus.
Each person here has a story, and a group of students have made it their mission to tell it.
“You can’t really write a story about us until you sit down with us, look around and understand,” said Ryan Kacey, who lives in a nearby shelter. “So many people are not willing to do that.”
Arizona State University student volunteers Faiz Khan and Chandan Saini took photos and recorded audio as Kacey described his life. The work will contribute to an online gallery, inspired by Humans of New York, to induce compassion for a group of people who often go overlooked.
Khan and Saini volunteer at the Student Health Outreach for Wellness Clinic, a health care center run by ASU, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
Between duties, they pass out water bottles, snap pictures and listen.
The stories they collect end up as part of the Humans of SHOW social media campaign that draws attention to the clinic on the Human Services Campus, featuring portrait-style photographs of the people they serve.
“People should try to engage with the homeless more,” said Saini, a senior studying psychology at ASU. “And that’s the point of this project, to break down the barriers, stereotypes and stigmas, so they can be viewed as people.”