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In the early 1940’s, communism was spreading in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. Vang Pao was the general in the Laotian Army, the US had come to ask for help from Vang Pao to fight against Vietnam. Hmong people were living in Laos and many men were recruited to help stop communism from spreading. The war between Vietnam and the Hmong people was called “Secret War.”
There was a young girl named Ying Khang who was married to Hue Vang. They lived in a small straw house in Laos. Everyday they would go to the garden and work under the hot sun. They raised and sold chickens, pigs, and vegetables for money. They would get their water from the river and eat rice, pumpkins, corn, and vegetables.
Before there was even a war everyone's lives in the village were normal. The women's worked in the garden and the men did all they could to support their families. But when communism was spreading everything changed. Many men disappeared, they had gotten recruited to fight in the war for General Vang Pao and the Americans. Some older and some younger. Many men did not return home.
“Let's go to America,” Said Hue.
“Why must we go?” Asked Ying.
“We can have a better life there and we should leave before the communist get to our village.” Hue replied.
“We can go to Thailand, there's a refugee camp there and we can stay there until we can go to the US.” Hue added.
“Okay let's go” said Ying
Everything happened so fast, the next day they were already packed. Before the communist could get to their village they had already started traveling to Thailand. They walked there by foot, they walked through jungles, and crossed the Mekong River. There was a refugee camp in Thailand. They still lived in straw houses the same way they did in Laos. They lived in Thailand for about ten years. While living in Thailand Ying and Hue eventually had their first child, it was a boy, his name was Chen. Soon after, Ying was pregnant again with their second child, but Hue had been arrested.
“What did you do? Why are you here?” asked Ying
“They've accused me of stealing. I was working in the store and they just arrested me” Hue said.
“I will get you out, just hold on for a while.” said Ying.
Each day Ying would walk to visit Hue and they would talk through the fence. Ying had to work to provide for herself, their son, and the baby in her womb. Without Hue around, things were hard for Ying, especially while being pregnant. Eventually Ying saved enough money to get Hue out.
“Will this be good enough for you to let my husband out?” Ying asked the soldier.
The soldier looked at how much money Ying had brought, $100.
“You're free to go.” the soldier said to Hue.
Hue was back home and worked hard to provide for his family. Soon after they applied to get sponsored to go to the US. Once they were sponsored they got on a plane and were on their way to Portland, Oregon. Once they landed in Oregon they lived there for a month and their second child was born. They decided to move to Sacramento to live near their families that also came to the US.
They didn't have jobs, so they got their money from government assistance. Chai learned English because he went to school to get his GED. While Hue was in school, Ying was a stay home mom and they had four kids at the time. Ying would tell her kids stories of their lives back in Laos and Thailand and their journey to the US. Soon, Hue graduated from high school and got his high school diploma. Years went by and they had nine kids who grew up and started families of their own. Soon after Hue had passed away of lung cancer. Ying had a hard time but as time went by she got better and started living her life.