Speakers discuss life after Vietnam
Mary Cayford and Jim Vang will present “Who Are the Hmong and How Are They Doing?” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Sponsored by Winchester Academy, the program is free and open to the public.
Cayford and Vang will present the story of Hmong settlement in central Wisconsin.
Hmong were recruited by the CIA during the Vietnam War to assist the secret army in Laos in their fight against the North Vietnamese.
The CIA met with General Vang Pao, recognized leader of the Hmong people, with a handshake commitment from the Hmong to fight with and rescue American pilots who were shot down over Laos. The U.S. commitment was to take care of the Hmong, regardless of the outcome of the war.
This presentation will introduce the life of the Hmong people before the Vietnam War, their bravery and loss of life during the war, and the persecution they suffered after the war.
Cayford and Vang together will tell the story of how the Hmong were forced to leave their homeland and of the dangers they endured, life in refugee camps and the endless years of waiting for approval to enter the U.S as legal refugees.
They will give a glimpse of the difficulties encountered by people who were not literate in their own language and who could not speak English.
The program will describe the struggles and successes of the first Hmong families who arrived in the U.S. in 1976 and others who came after them, as they proudly became American citizens, raising successful children, and winning the hearts of Americans who have gotten to know them.
Cayford was co-chair of the Portage County Hmong Advocacy Committee for 14 years. She says she became involved “when it became apparent that this new group of refugees who had moved to central Wisconsin needed help.” She served as a Hmong advocate and case manager.
Vang was born in Laos, a member of the Hmong tribe who lived in the mountainous region in the north. Orphaned at a young age, he came to the U.S as a legal refugee at age 17 and was first welcomed into an American family in New York. He later moved to Wausau, then Stevens Point.
Although Vang knew very little English when he arrived in the U.S., he was a quick study, and the Hmong community in Stevens Point came to depend on him for translating and interpreting.
Vang has spent countless hours helping his community, providing medical and legal interpreting as well as helping the Hmong navigate the new world of schools, grocery stores, employment and banking they encountered in a modern society.
Winchester Academy programs are funded through sponsors and tax-deductible donations.
This program is sponsored by the Waupaca Foundry.
For more information about Winchester Academy, check winchesteracademywaupaca.org, follow on Facebook, or contact Executive Director Ann Buerger Linden at 715-258-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.