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The bedroom works to show audience members that historical trauma is not linear. Historical trauma shows up in traces; whether that is the trace of the refugee camps in an embroidered textile or the haunting remnants of France’s colonization of Laos in silver coins. In addition, this also showcases that memories are often what marginalized communities have left to grapple with in the aftermath of war.


Written by  Jenny Moua, Ka Moua Lo, and Honey Moua

Towards the end of the Secret War, my parents and siblings were forced to flee their village or face persecution.  My father was a soldier along with all the men in their village and their lives were in danger.  My father went into hiding leaving my mom and my siblings in the care of relatives. My mom carried and guided six small children through the jungles of Laos. Many times, she wanted to give up.

For fear of being ambushed and starvation, the thought of drugging herself and her children with opium crossed her mind many times.  Relatives left them behind because my siblings were little, slow and could cause the whole group to be killed. My mom took a look at her children and knew she had to survive for them. She had to find a way to get to my dad. With every ounce of energy and hope left, she persevered and continued guiding her small children through the dark unknown jungle of Laos. With very little sleep, and no food she forged forward.  Gunshots were fired left and right, dead bodies laid in their path, and countless land mines were planted everywhere. Blindly leading her small children, my mom kept on fighting. 26 days later, she brought my siblings and herself to safety as well as reuniting with my dad again.

We hear very little about the women who experienced and lived this horrible war. The men may have fought in the war but the women were also heroes. My mom, Doua Lor Moua is my true hero. I replay her stories in my head and I cry inconsolably. She was a warrior. She was resilient. Her children were her life. She may have only knew how to write her name, a few vegetable names, and $1.00/bunch for vegetables in English at the local Farmers Market, but she carried a wealth of knowledge beyond anyone else I know. She was the best mother, best listener, best advisor, best shoulder to cry on, and my very best friend. I miss her very much. I didn’t know how much I could miss someone until she left this earth. I knew my mom loved me so much, but I didn’t realize the depth of her love for me until I had my own child(ren). She will always be in our hearts.

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Backpacks are constant reminders of childhood and growing up. Depending on who we are, our economic circumstances, our dreams, and aspirations. Backpacks are the most ubiquitous and constant belonging throughout our lives. We shed our clothes and our skin, yet they remain the same. It weaves in hierarchies and tribes and is an extension of our personality.

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From Backpacks to HMoob Stories

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