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Laos

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For Hmong Americans, patchwork and embroidery are keys to preserving history and documenting the future.
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"It was Laos, and the elders, that taught me that we create community and community creates us," writes Vlai Ly, a Hmong-American writer and photographer working in Sacramento.
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Health workers and a younger generation help Hmong elders overcome a devastating past in one Northern California community.
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Nearly 40 years later, Cambodian refugees who can bear telling their stories recall atrocities in vivid detail, with an immediacy that is palpable.

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As one of the largest, most expansive cities in the country, Los Angeles faces huge challenges in getting out health-related messages that resonate with the city's myriad cultures. Lack of health literacy, or having trouble understanding either the benefits or the details of modern, often Western medicine, has ripple effects, including patients being less likely to seek preventive care and more likely to use hospital emergency rooms for routine medical care. 

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Ms. Zoua Vang is First 5 Fresno County's advocacy/PR coordinator. She joined First 5 Fresno County in January 2005. Ms. Vang handles First 5 Fresno's internal and external communications and helps to craft as well as promote the agency's advocacy platforms. She holds bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and history. Before joining First 5 Fresno, Ms. Vang spent more than five years producing award-winning stories as a reporter and anchor at KSEE-TV (the NBC affiliate in Fresno). Prior to KSEE-TV, she worked as a reporter-trainee at KSTP-TV (the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, Minn.).

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Palee Moua was born and raised in Laos. She speaks proficient Hmong, Lao and Thai. Ms. Moua arrived in the United States in 1976 as a refugee. Over the past 23 years, she has provided community service as an interpreter and translator. Currently, she is co-director of Southeast Asian services at Healthy House and coordinates several projects serving newly arriving Hmong refugees.

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Born in Laos, Mr. Maxwell L. Moua has been a shaman for 36 years -- since he was 21 years old. Like many shamans, Mr. Moua recognized his own spiritual calling after an illness that prompted him to isolate himself from his family and others. In addition to shamanism, Mr. Moua does magic healing and time reading. In addition to shamanism, the other defining factor in Mr. Moua's life was the guerilla warfare that swept up so many Hmong of his generation in Laos. Mr.

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Over the past 24 years, Mr. Changvang Her has been involved in the Hmong community as a healthcare interpreter, cultural broker and director of several programs for the Merced-based nonprofit Healthy House. Mr. Her currently directs language service projects and its \"Partners in Healing Project,\" which works to create more understanding between physicians and Hmong shamans in the Central Valley. Mr. Her facilitates home visits that allow Western doctors to observe traditional ceremonies, and he shares information about shaman tools, altars and the cultural meanings of traditional practices.

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Got a great idea for an ambitious reporting project on a California health issue?  Let us fund it.  Apply now for the 2019 California Fellowship, which provides $1,000 reporting grants and six months of expert mentoring to 20 journalists, community engagement grants of up to $2,000, specialized mentoring, to five.

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