The Hmong, The Lees' Experience, And The Conflict Of Cultures

652 words - 3 pages

The Hmong are a group of people who originally lived in the mountains overlooking Laos, China, Vietnam, and Thailand-- though most have since emigrated to other countries and areas due to political conflict. They have valued self-sufficiency and resisted authority throughout history, as they have constantly been the minority and often seen as the Other and persecuted for being such. Still, many have managed to survive and preserve much of their culture, such as religious beliefs and shamanic healing practices.
During what is called The Secret War (1953-75), thousands of Hmong fought in the Royal Lao Army led by General Vang Pao against the communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese military, on behalf of the U.S. and France, who promised to let them come to the U.S. and receive veterans’ benefits if defeated. France and the U.S. broke their promise, and thousands of Hmong survivors and veterans were forced to evacuate their country by foot in the most agonizing and dehumanizing of conditions, many dying along the way. Many of them, despite all odds, managed to make it to refugee camps where conditions were also miserable. Finally, when the Hmong were forced to resettle, many were brought to the U.S., but not after some delays and without ever receiving veterans’ benefits. They were placed in certain cities in the U.S., including Merced.
The Lee family escaped Laos during the war, frequently witnessing and experiencing horrifying tragedies along the way. They were moved to several different cities before being placed in the town of Merced-- the population of which is about twenty percent Hmong when the book is published-- where they live with Lia, their child, who has epilepsy. The Lees do not see the epilepsy as a brain disease but instead as the result of a dab, a malevolent spirit, catching Lia and making her fall down. They took her to the Merced County Medical Center (MCMC) hospital where she was prescribed medication that they do not...

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