Grass Roots: Hmong scrape together money for Haiti earthquake victims

Friday, March 19, 2010

For more than a decade, Pat has reported on the communities -- neighborhood, ethnicity, lifestyle and avocation -- that make Madison what it is.
Disaster brings out the best in people, they say. And the people at Kajsiab House make me think that might be true.
The Hmong people who gather there for classes, community and treatment in a program of the Mental Health Center of Dane County don't have much. Many fought in or are widows of fighters in the CIA's secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War. They depend on disability benefits and family to help them get by.

But they squeezed a dollar here and there out of their household budgets to collect $550 for relief of earthquake victims in Haiti.

"We give a few dollars to help other victims," Blia Thao says. She was one of 16 Hmong who gathered at Kajsiab House on the grounds of Mendota Mental Health Institute to talk about the charitable effort that began when they saw television accounts of the devastation in Haiti.

"We've been through a lot. We know about suffering," said John Vang.
Like they say, hard times bring out the best in people.


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