Khmu’ Community of Orange County, California was established in 1981 by our most respected and humbled leaders, Thomas (Khammeung) Manokoune, Tommy (Khammoui) Sayavong, John (Bounchanh) Sayavong, and Edmund (Ngeun) Channita and its main purpose was to assist newly arrived Khmu’ refugees from Laos to gain access to social services for government assistances and to provide them with basic needs, so they can start a new life in the United States of America. As more of us started to arrive in Southern California and throughout the U.S. in the 1980s, many families and individuals were displaced and had to settle wherever they’re being sponsored. Much sponsorship were carried out by various churches and some by loving and compassionate American families that took them into their homes and let them live with the sponsors’ very own family.
Because of language barriers, lack of education, and sudden exposure to a new and foreign world, many Khmu’ find it extremely hard to get access to social services and let alone get employed. The Khmu’ Community of Orange County tasked itself to search, found, and brought all or most Khmu’ arriving in Southern California to come and live as one community in Orange County. Living close to each other, speaking the same language and being accustomed to the same culture made it easier for the group’s leaders to provide basic assistance to the new Khmu’ refugees.
The basic needs that we provided for all new Khmu’ families or individuals that joined and participated in our community, were a bag of rice, mattresses, pots, pans, dishes, kitchen utensils, and used couch if available. These basic items were to get the family or individual to settle in and start a new life.
The original community leaders had tried their very best to convince and bring all Khmu’ together to live in one single enclave, so that we can provide more assistances such as language translation in hospital, court of laws, and educational institutions. But this task is almost impossible, because we now live in a large country where all people have their own rights to seek better opportunity for themselves and their families. Therefore, today we have other Khmu’ community in the city of Fresno, Stockton, Richmond, CA, the states of Arizona, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and the state of Washington.
Today, as the population of Khmu’ in the U.S. grows and many of us are permanently settled down with jobs and family, we no longer have to provide the basic needs that our original founders started, although we can and will if the need arises.
Within our Khmu’ Community of Orange County, we have over 30 families that reside throughout Southern California, mainly in Orange County and the Inland Empire and many of us are actively involved with the organization. Our Khmu’ Community engages in various social activities to maintain and promote this precious culture of ours.
We organized and worked hard together every so often to bond our community in such events as Khmu’ New Year celebration, Khmu’ Annual Picnic, and the quarterly community meetings. We came together to provide support, coordinated plans and lent a helping hand during funerals and other tragic events. We came together to resolve family disputes and mitigated conflicts and disagreements among community members. We also come together to celebrate and rejoice new born, graduations, job promotions, and wedding ceremonies.
After 30 years, our goals still remain the same today. Our goals are to embrace and preserve the Khmu’ cultural heritage and maintain our community cohensiveness, educate and promote our cultural customs to the young generation, encourage and assist our youth to strive for higher education, so they can become successful professionals, and be due-diligent American citizens and help all Khmu’ to follow and respect the laws.
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