A guard tower at a refugee camp A child crying at the refugee camp A woman holding a baby A man playing the qeej A woman and child sitting on the ground at a refugee camp A woman with a basketful of bananas on her back Fleeing a fire at a Hmong refugee camp An elderly Hmong woman at a refugee camp A woman holding a story cloth A man weaving a basket at a  Hmong refugee camp

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Sue Bassett on Refugee Camps

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Today Sue came to our classroom and told us about refugees, Highlands, and the three seasons. She showed us pictures about mountains, Hmong people, Akha and many others like Thin and Lisu.

Back in Laos, they didn’t have strollers for their babies, so they used cloth to wrap it around their babies and put it on their backs. The cloth was either on their backs or sides.

The houses in the villages were made out of wheat or grass and bamboo. The top of the house is made out of grass and the rest is made out of bamboo. The bed is also made out of bamboo and has a cloth over it because mosquitoes could get in the house. The cloth is a protection from the mosquitoes because the mosquitoes carry malaria. Malaria is a disease that can kill you.

There are two different ways of doing paj ntaub: The wax way or else the regular way, which you do with your hands.

The Highlands was mostly where people lived because there was more space for growing things.

Today my class and I had a presentation by a lady named Sue Bassett. She told us about Highlanders (people who live in the mountains) and refugee camps. I liked the refugee camp part best. She was a nurse in a refugee camp!

At the refugee camp, people were always getting sick. So the nurses were kept awfully busy with the measles, burns, skin problems and people who did not get enough food and water.

At a refugee camp to go to the bathroom, you would squat over a hole and go to the bathroom. To shower you would pour water over yourself with a towel thing over you and when that one got too wet, you would put on another one.

The Hmong refugees would often die on their way to a refugee camp while crossing the Mekong River. There not only were dangers on your way to a refugee camp, there were dangers at the refugee camp, like: getting sick, growing weak, and, of course, dying. Also on the way there you could die, step on a mine, get shot and lose a child or any member of the family.

The Hmong called Americans “furung” instead of foreign. Men would fight roosters.

Susan Bassett kept on talking about weather. When it rained in Laos, little kids would get things that would float through the water because the water would make a little river and kids found slippers, pans, etc. It’s kind of fishing but you’re not really fishing because you’re not fishing fish. When it was fall, it would be cold at night and it would be steaming hot at day.

Some Hmong elders and children would play Kawtow, Tublub, rocks and sticks, soccer and lots of more exciting games.

Susan Bassett showed pictures of tools that would smush rice to make dough. They would take corn that was still on the cob and put it in the machine and it would take all the corn and eat it.

There’s lots of things made out of bamboo, dry long grass, etc. For example, baskets, a roof of a house, backpacks, and a lot more stuff that I don’t know the names.

Some of the Hmong people couldn’t see well so Susan Bassett came and gave them glasses so they could still l see and they can also use it to do their needle working like a paj ntaub

The Hmong at the refugee camp had to sleep on the ground and it wasn’t a very good place to really stay at for a long time because a lot of people had died at the refugee camp of diseases not enough food and got shot from the war and that is how people die. The disease could spread to the people that lived by them. When people are sick, they would take a goat horn or something like that and they would rub it against their skin and it would turn red and then it will heal. When the babies don’t get enough food then they would get sent to a place that will provide food for the Hmong people that needed it. Most of the Hmong people didn’t have that much food for the children, especially the babies because they didn’t get fed as much. When the babies were born at home, Susan Bassett went over and weighed the baby and gave a birth certificate. She would see that they had what they needed, what they wanted for the baby, like food, diapers, and stuff like that. Then they would give it to the family.

The Hmong babies only wore a t-shirt and the older Hmong kids wore a t-shirt and pants.

Hmong, Akha, Thin, Lisu, and Mien people lived in the mountains in Laos. Some, if they had money, had horses to carry them and their supplies to the marketplace to sell. If they didn’t have a horse, they would walk on dirt roads or sometimes there wasn’t even a road. They would have a woven basket on their back that carried their goods. They didn’t have a lot of money so from when they’re born until when they’re two, they usually don’t wear clothes and from two to three they wear just shirts and four and older, you get pants, too.

In the refugee camps, there were a lot of sick people and there was a camp clinic. The most common sickness was malnutrition. This is when you don’t have enough of something like protein, vitamin C, etc. and you get really skinny. There was a special place for kids over five where they gave them special food loaded with vitamins and nutrition. To bring out nutrition, you can rub a back really hard. It turns red. In America, people thought that the parents abused them when all they were doing was helping them.

Many people slept in the same bed in the refugee camp. It was a good sometimes because in the cold season at night it got cold and they stayed warm. The kitchen was basically a corner of the room with a fire. They also had a ring of metal to put a pot on to cook their food on.
–Izzy S.

Sue told us that it wasn’t only Hmong that lived in the Highlands and refugee camps. There were also Mien, Akha, Lisu, and others. When people came to Thailand from Laos they didn’t know how to swim so they had to make rafts, triangles or use two pieces of bamboo stuck under their armpits. When they got to Thailand, the Thai didn’t want them there because they didn’t want their country to overflow. Once the Hmong got in the refugee camps, many people got sick from not having enough food. There were also people who were in the hospital because of gunshots and other sicknesses. But a lot of people had fun. Kids would go to the stream and collect stuff that had been dropped farther up stream, like flip-flops, toys. Once in a while, they would catch a fish.

Sometimes a very bad thing would happen. There would be a fire. People would run into their houses and grab everything they could, then start running away as fast as they could.
–Sara K.

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