Fleeing of the Hmong people to Thailand for safety

Introduction

The Hmong people had to flee from their original homeland to Thailand for safety, Foua and Nao Kao being one of them.Their child, Lia, had had epilepsy and needed close medical attention, which was given to her by the doctors but denied by the parents who deliberately refused to administer medicine to her. The parents’ act caused their denial of parenting the child for some time. Lia’s illness later advanced, leaving the doctors to surrender to the death of the child. Fadiman decides to find an interpreter and a cultural broker to help her gather information from the Lee family.

  1. Was the removal of Lia from her parent’s custody rightful regarding her overall wellbeing?

Denying Foua and Nao Kao Lia’s custody was a painful experience for the family but very rational for the betterment of the child’s healthcare. According to the Hmong culture, parents had full control over their children, and only family members were allowed to give opinions concerning children’s medication. During Lia’s stay with her fosters, the Korda family prescribed medicine would be administered to her at the right times hence an improvement in the child’s health. Later the Lees after the agony could visit the Kordas and spend time with Lia as well as Korda’s children. They would freely interact with the family in the custody of their child-Lia. 

  • How did Fadiman secure an interpreter who served as a cultural broker between her and the Lees?

Fadiman had an encounter with Sukey Waller, a psychologist at Merced Community Outreach services. Sukey was an American, highly respected by the Hmong people. She, therefore, introduced Fadiman to five Hmong elders and advised her to have an interpreter as well as a cultural broker for efficient communication with the Lees. Following the advice, Fadiman went ahead and had May Ying Xiong, a clerk at the Merced County Office of Refugees Services, as her interpreter. To their advantage, the husband to May Ying was a member of Lee’s clan building the Lee family’s confidence to communicate during their first meeting. Fadiman and May Ying, being together, were of a low status, which was compliant to the Lee’s expectations.

  • How Jeanine Hilt advocated for the Lee family.

Jeanine Hilt had the responsibility of trying to help the Lees gain custody of their child after being declared reliable for Lia’s medication. Hilt therefore had to convince the Lees to positively accept and trust the medication offered to the child by the American doctors. He started off by first educating the Lees on the need for the medication. Later on, he took his time and taught Foua and Nao Kao how to make sure Lia swallowed depakene, the new drug in liquid form, prescribed in replacement of the previous pills which were hard for the child to take, by using a syringe. At a time when Nao Kao almost attempted to murder Sue Xiong due to anger, Hilt tried and prevented him from doing so as it would complicate his case and even deny him custody of the child.

  • Explain how the Lees and Neil Ernst culturally contrasted in how they viewed the Ernst’s family vacation?

Lia experienced a seizure which lasted longer than the others she went through. She was then rushed to the hospital by an ambulance for immediate treatment which didn’t bear immediate fruits. Her situation worsened and she had to be put in a children’s Intensive Care Unit which wasn’t available at MCMC. Transfer to Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno was therefore necessary. This was misunderstood by the Lees, who claimed that Neil only wanted to go on vacation. While testing for the presence of bacteria in Lia’s central nervous system, Nao Kao thought the medicine administered to his daughter would cause her to be crippled. Foua and Nao Kao also declined granting doctors the permission to perform two more tests to Lia plus a tracheostomy as they never understood the medical processes being performed on Lia.

  • Give three reasons why many Hmong declined from leaving the refugee camp (Ban Vanai) in Thailand.

Most of the Hmong people present at Ban Vanai refugee camp in Thailand had fled from their homeland which had been invaded by the Vietnamese soldiers. War dominated the region forcing the Hmong to flee for their safety. Young men were captured and subjected to forced labour with many of them losing their lives. They were also denied to practice their rituals and their names changed with an aim of fading their clan names. Villages were burned down, families separated and relocated to the lowlands, exposing the Hmong people to tropical diseases such as malaria. Those caught stealing food would be sentenced to death even after the Vietnamese taking away all the Hmong harvested.

Conclusion

Despite the cultural differences, both the Hmong and the American physicians had to collaborate for the betterment of their healthcare. Communication would be very important in understanding one another and being able to learn new things. Lia’s parents had to accept the treatment being offered to their daughter and not just cling onto their cultural beliefs, but of course after being fully educated on the medical ways of treatment. On the other hand, parents also have the right to take care of their children on their own.

Reference

Fadiman, A (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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