Friday, September 30, 2005

"When the floods came, we knew we could help wipe out their tears"

There are still good people in this world.

If you aren't familar with the history of the Hmong refugees, read this and this. The Hmong are a group of people from Laos who lived in a primarly agrarian, non-literate society. They practice an animist relgion. They fought on the American side against the communists in Laos during the Vietnam war, and when we pulled out, they were left by the wayside. The lucky ones escaped through the mountains and jungles, crossing the Mekong River into Thailand, and were gathered into refugee camps. The last of these camps/settlements were recently closed, forcing the residents to leave, though they were still not allowed to return to Laos. Starting in 1975, the US started to do the right thing and brought over thousands of Hmong that had assisted us, but many were still left behind. When the last camps were closed last year, the US again opened spots up for their resettlement here, mostly in California and Minnesota.

The Kajsiab House is an unique institution that provides desperately needed services to these people, and is (of course) constantly in danger of losing all funding. Most of the people that use its services are as poor as anybody in this country is, with even fewer options than most because of language and cultural issues, as well as mental health effects from the trauma they've lived through. I don't know how I can make clear to people who aren't familiar with this understand what it meant for these folks to come up with over $500, but trust me, it brought tears to my eyes.

(I have new pictures to post, but I can't get to it until later this weeekend at the earliest)

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