April 28, 2022 IN: Our Voices
SEARAC Joins Southeast Asian American Communities in Reflection of Refugee Resilience
Throughout the month of April, Southeast Asian American communities across the country have honored our loved ones in life and in legacy, as we reflect on the origins of our refugee journeys over four decades ago.
We hold in our hearts the victims and survivors of horrific acts of war and genocide that led to more than one million of our peoples’ forced displacement from our homes.
We draw strength from the courage of our families who embarked on dangerous journeys through dense jungles and dark waters.
We celebrate the resilience of our elders who faced obstacle after obstacle upon their resettlement — incredible mothers like Cambodian Genocide survivor Chho Sok who fought for her children’s future.
In a recent conversation with her son, Bunthay Cheam, Chho recounted her early days in America:
“I didn’t complain to them because we came to their country, they gave us a lot of help, it’s better [than before] already. But then I thought when Mary [my daughter] grows up, I’ll hire someone to look after her so that I can go to work. I didn’t know that, oh, the housing authority, when we work, that they would charge us more. … If I want a car, a house, I have to work two jobs.”
Today, decades after his birth at a Thai refugee camp, Bunthay is a multidisciplinary storyteller, dedicated community leader, and SEARAC Leadership and Advocacy Training alumnus with whom SEARAC is proud to be in community.
With each generation, our movement grows.
Our collective vision for Southeast Asian Americans not only to survive, but to live with the freedom to thrive, becomes more than just a dream. It is a reality we fight for every day.
We raise our voices in the halls of power to demand the right to heal, the right to be seen, and the right to family – to reclaim what was once taken from us.
Together, we rise.
And every day, we remember.