WHILE most Perth teenagers enjoyed the creature comforts of their family home, Vaughan Guan led a “chaotic” life on the streets and addicted to drugs.
Homeless for most of his teenage years, the 25-year-old said it was not easy to eventually turn his life around.
“I was homeless from the age of 14, developed a serious drug problem and had no aspirations for my future,” he said.
“When I turned 18, I decided it was time to get my life back on track, but it was a very slow process.”
Five years ago, he half-heartedly signed up for the photographic mentoring Home Is Where My Heart Is project, which teams photographers with homeless youths to help them to tell their stories through photos.
“I eventually signed up for the project; at the time, my heart wasn’t really in it, but it did give me more confidence,” he said. “I had an amazing mentor who helped me discover a passion for photography and encouraged me to enroll in a photo journalism course at university.
“At the time, my life was chaotic, and I knew I needed to find a healthy way to function with that chaos.
“Photojournalism allowed me to slow things down and process things.”
Guan is the first person to return to the program as a mentor.
“It took me two years to decide to become a mentor,” he said. “It was exhausting to come to that decision; I felt maybe I wasn’t ready, but this project is really important to me.
“My motivation is to give someone else the same opportunity I had.”