The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Updated September 16, 2009: I didn’t get to watch Nerakhoon, the Betrayal film when it aired in July on PBS, and pre-ordered my copy from the Cinema Guild.  They mailed it out on September 1st, and I got it several days later but didn’t get to watch it with my sisters until the past Saturday.  I didn’t know what to expect but was looking forward to seeing my old neighborhood, and one of my friends had mentioned to me that he didn’t realize how bad it was when I was talking about my old neighborhood and my childhood growing up until he saw the documentary film.

After watching the film, I was not moved by the life in the US, might be that it was something that we’ve experienced also since we lived in the same neighborhood, same building, and same sponsor that brought us to the US.  But we were not as bad off, we were fortunate that we had both our parents at the time, and my parents, especially my mom had been a good role model for us, we’ve come a long way.  Also, I feel that it’s a choice that we made in life, it comes with consequences and we might not be able to see it at the time.  When you’re young, you think you’re invincible, I recalled hearing about being “21 and die” growing up and that’s the mentality of many that join gangs, I don’t know if they think living past 21 is considered old, like over the hill.

The life struggled of the family leaving Laos was very moving to me, once again we had it easy in comparison to them.  When Ai Thavi’s grandmother looked at the chicken’s feet to foretell the path and future is new to me, it’s almost comical when she said that his path was wide open because the feet were spread out, it was time for him to leave, and he left.  The image of the family united at the concentration camp in Thailand was also moving, an image of a mother that had to make a decision of leaving her two children and her husband behind, one being only 3 years old, she was one brave woman.

The most touching moment to me was when their father visited them in New York, and also the most heart breaking moment when he had to leave to be with his other family in Florida, to me this is Nerakhoon (betrayal), but yet in the Lao culture, are we allowed to make such a statement about our own father that he is Nerakhoon to his family, or is it the children that are Nerakhoon when they feel anger toward the man that gave them life? But this is clearly not the main point, please note that I didn’t miss the main point of this documentary film, that it was meant to bring into light or expose the secrete war that the American Government failed to acknowledge that it ever happened, and that the Nerakhoon was the betrayal that the family feel when they came to America, they feel abandoned by the American Government.  But isn’t it part of life to struggle, or is it fair to think that America owe us?

There are other aspects of this documentary film that’s considered Nerakhoon (the Betrayal), and I’m sure we all have our own perspective on this, whether it be political or personal.

Posted July 21, 2009: A reminder from MissPhom, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is airing tonight on PBS, please check your local listings, as for me it’s 10 PM (I think, but I can’t seem to find it on my local listing, so I might not get to watch it) Thavisouk was my neighbor in Brooklyn, NY, so this was my old neighborhood and looking forward to seeing his life on film.


A post that I wrote last year: Underreported: The Legacy of the War in Laos via Nerakhoon


  1. I didn’t get to watch it, it’s awful living in a small town, apparently it’s not showing in my area or I just don’t know where to look. I haven’t been watching TV for a while so I’m kinda lost with the remote control and the channels. 😦

  2. Interesting that you knew the guy from the film – what a small world!

    This documentary sound interesting. I will check my local PBS listing and mark my calendar. Thanks. 🙂

    • Lila, it’s a small world, too bad he wasn’t at Wat Lao Buddhavong during the 4th, otherwise we’d have seen him again.

  3. I recorded it last night on my DVR. I watched it half way and will finish it today. Sadly…. the story sounds too familiar for me and every other Lao people. I wish I could change history and erase this Secret War and any wars all together.

    • lady0fdarkness, history is not a bad thing, I think it only makes us stronger and if you look at us now, we’ve come a long way and this documentary film has proved the many successes that we’ve accomplished, something to be proud of.

      I think we all bear the emotional scars of the war.

  4. I watched it last night… I didn’t move out of the chair for entire movie. It was very touching story and most of laotian refugee can relate to the story. As Thavi’s mom telling the stories… I couldn’t help it but feeling her pain and suffering.. I’ll admitted it.. i had teary eyes some part of the movie… The title of this movie just sum it all..

    I saw Thavi at San Francisco lao new year festival this past April.

    • seeharhed, thanks for sharing, I think I’d have cried also. I’ve not gone back to visit my old neighborhood, as city kid, we played a lot on the building rooftop those days, I’d love to see my old neighborhood again someday.

  5. My oldest sister said that she watched it last night, and saw people that we knew, the women, men, and kids. She said things had gotten real bad after we moved to Queens, NY, but then I moved away from Brooklyn before her, my parents and the younger kids moved to Philadelphia for 2 years, then we moved back to Queens, NY.

    I’ll definitely get the DVD to watch, but I’m glad that his film is well received by the Lao people.

  6. I’ve been trying to find this documentary for the longest time. Would you happen to know if they are selling it on dvd (such as Amazon etc.)?

  7. Seeharhed and Nang Meta, It’s not available yet, it will be released on September 1, 2009. Pre-order now at the Cinema Gild will save you 30%, which comes up to $20.99 and they charge you $6 for UPS shipping fee, so it’s $26.99. I think I’ll call them directly to place an order.

    Customers outside the United States should place orders directly with their office by e-mailing or by calling (212) 685-6242. (Office is open Mon – Fri, 9 AM – 5 PM EST)

  8. I was lucky to have watched this in a theater with a bunch of friends and then again on PBS. I have to say though I felt guilty after seeing it. Even though I was a child and none of my family was active in the goverment or military I still feel some responsibily.

    I am glad that movies like this are made and wish they would be shown in school.

    • Hi Jeffrey, thanks for stopping by. Apparently they’re not showing the film in our area yet, I live in a small town. But I placed my order for the DVD the other day and they’ll ship this out on September 1st, so I can’t wait to watch it.

      I’m not sure what good came out of the Vietnam era, seemed like each side claimed the victory but ironically the casualties were too great on both sides, and the emotional scars that many of us still bear till this day, perhaps it did make us stronger, the tragic of the war lead us to a better life in this great country, I guess a part of life is to live and learn.

  9. Hi, people, glad to join the conversation. I might need a hi-def receiver to record this on svhs-tape or DVD. They have a huge wonderful family.

    We’re really thankful to be born a Lao. Because we can now feel what she feels intimately. If, for example, you’ve watch a documentary from another country and you don’t feel anything, then in your next life you could be born there so you can understand. Our souls share a link to the rest of humanity and we should begin to treat each others genuinely.

    Someone mention they want to change history and erase this Secret War and any wars all together….I wouldn’t change a thing. Look at it from this point of view. The earth is a living library where all things can happen. They happen because of karma and for our life’s learning experience. Your destiny is set, but you can change your destiny. In fact, nothing did happen in another parallel universe. Physicist theorize that parallel universe do exist but you can’t see them. Which means, nothing like this ever happen and you’re still in Laos enjoying a coconut. You can create your reality.

    But who wants to just enjoy a coconut when a whole life experience is awaiting you. Think positive about what we’ve went thru and your future will be more in your favor. Our “field trip” in this lifetime will make us wiser and more understanding. The mother in the documentary said, ” my children don’t understand the hardship I’d endured for them.” She spent toiling hours looking for leftovers in the camp to feed her 8 of 10 children. Yet some of the kids plug their ears with 80’s tunes and behave unruly. First thought cross my mind is… some of these kids need to understand or experience hardship. And they might get it, if not this lifetime, some other lifetime. Once they reach some kind of understanding or compassion, they’ve graduated from being human.

    • Hi Zeddicus, thanks for joining the conversation. Our family were raised in the same environment, also 8 kids, but we moved away in the late 80s, I often wondered what would happen if we were still living in Brooklyn, perhaps things happen for a reason. I t think to the Lao people, this film is a huge success, a documentary film for our younger generations, so they’d know how much hardship their parents or grandparents endured. I’m glad that it’s accepted and received well by its own people, you can’t ask for more than this.

      I vaguely remember if it was in the late 80s or early 90s when 2 tour bus came to pick up the Lao, Vietnamese, and Cambodian families, one I believed to Stockton CA, and the other one to Rochester NY or somewhere up North, I wondered if that’s mentioned in the film, I often wonder what has happened to those families.

      Even though I have not watched the film, but I know how it’d be since I used to live there, but I think all Lao people can relate to this because most of us lived in the ghetto of a city when we first got here.

      I also don’t want to change history, I believed things happen for a reason and what happened led us here today, otherwise I might still be farming and riding a water buffalo, and not that I wouldn’t like that since I wouldn’t know any better. 🙂

  10. I had a chance to watch The Betrayal. We just don’t hear as much about Laos as we do about other Asian immigrant stories. It was a very touching story.

    I was amazed that it’s 23 years of filming. I am glad their story is being heard and that the new generation can have more empathy for what their parents had to struggle with after the Vietnam War.

    Immigrant stories are my favorite kind of stories, especially if it’s a documentary too. I will have to make a full review of this at my blog later. 😉

    • Cambree, looking forward to reading your review. I ordered the DVD and will take it to watch at my dad’s house, my sisters want to watch it also. My oldest sister said that it was very good, even though we lived in the same apartment complex, but they had it worse than us, might be that my parents were very strict on us and I’m thankful for that.

  11. Nye, you sounds some what a bit disappointed after seeing the dvd. Do you know or recognize any of those people on film beside Thavi’s family? Did your sisters had similar reactions to the film also?

    • seeharhed, I expect more actions in the US, the life was a lot rougher than that, telling the story is not the same as seeing the actual actions, shooting the film from a dining room table perspective is not the same as shooting it from the street, but I figured it was hard to film all that. I recognize the boy with the tattoos but can’t recall his name and other young boys in the film, the thin man with the sunglasses at the dinner table, Loung Kuntee but didn’t recognize the lady with Tai Tai accent, perhaps his new wife, and of course his mom, Nar Oradee, and Thavi, but we knew him by the name of Souk. My sister Sue knew one of his sisters.

      Life in the neighborhood wasn’t always bad, people would hang out by the ball field (where the chain link fences are) and it’s very festive in the evening from what I recalled, and by the late 80s some even sell food and stuff, but we don’t see that in the film, overall you don’t see much of the neighborhood and to do a documentary film to me is to film the actual events that happened, even if they’ve to reproduce the situations.

      I think the choice of words for the translation could be better, like at one time his mom said that “I’m full”, which in this case would have more emotional impacted if she said “I’m bottled up inside”, the translation was too much of word to word which when translated into English, you lose the message that the person is trying to convey, this is a very emotional event and I’m not sure for those that can’t understand Lao, how they took the translation, perhaps a bit too dry. But I still think it’s good and would recommend to others.

      • It’s neat to hear Nye’s experiences back then too. Since Nye mention there were people hanging out, being festive and having fun too. It sound like they were forming a sense of community despite the violence and poverty. I would never have known about that part. So that adds another angle to the story.

        I also know with foreign movies,some things are always lost in translation. You would think since this film was being produced by a Lao person, the translation would be more accurate.

        But overall, it was a very touching film that many people should watch. As the same thing is being repeated with current wars and refugees are being displaced all over again. Like in San Jose, Ca where they are resettling some Iraqi refugees that lost their home and families and have to start all over again.

  12. For me… the Nerakhoon was mostly from the American’s. Richard Nixon said it himself that they were only concerned about the safety of American lives. They used the innocent Lao people along with the Hmongs to do their dirty work. They even dumped millions of bombs on Laos just to lightened their cargo planes. Never mind the Lao civilians that were being shredded to pieces, just get rid of those damn left over bombs. They call themselves the world police, but I think they are the world bullies.

    I also felt like Thavi and his family was betrayed by his father. Yes he was taken away by the Lao Communists, but what about all the years when he was freed??? Why didn’t he go looking for his wife and 10 children? And what about after that? Why didn’t he care to be a part of his old family??

    The third Nerakhoon comes from the Communist Laos for killing their own people, for taking fathers away from their wives and kids; for destroying lives.

    I commend Thavi for telling his story to the world. Everyone needs to know this part of history.

    • lady0fdarkness, I hate war, to me war is to feed their personal egos, do what they do in the name of ‘justice’ and claiming their victory, but yet the battlefield is the ugly reality, not truth nor justice but claiming the lives of many innocent people. I also feel that the main point of Nerakhoon in the film that the director is trying to convey is the American, that their father was working for the US, he was the hero, and that the family should be taken care of by the American. I would imagine that they were the upper class in Laos and had people to do things for them.

      And like most of us coming to America, we were not informed and even painted ourselves this beautiful picture that it’s the land of heaven, America the beautiful, but once we got here, like the film said, “it’s hell on earth.” I often wonder why they feel this way, I don’t think our family have that kind of feeling, at least not when I was growing up and might be that we knew hardship when we were living in Thailand before coming to America, and that put things into prospective for us real fast, it did for me in terms of education, I rezoned myself out from my school district when I was in the 6 grade to a better school, you learned to survive on the streets and take care of yourself at a young age. I think some of us feel the Nerakhoon because of certain expectations that we have and the reality is not matching up to our expectations.

      Sadly I can see the Nerakhoon from the perspective of the Pathet Lao also, part of the film when they first took over the country, there were singing and a huge celebration, then some decided to work for the American because they get paid more for being Lao American soldier, so I’m sure the Pathet Lao felt that their own people turned against them, Nerakhoon. I feel that the betrayal is all in a personal perspective of which side you are on.

  13. If you are Lao, no matter how you came into U.S you can related to the story. Some of us are much luckier than other Nye is right, by being closely protected by your parents are the number things that protect you from hanging out with people on the wrong side of society. Finishing high school going to college and grad school,med school and so on to become sucessful.
    Interesting Film, I ve seen documentary from PBS many times regarding to Lao Refugee stories to “The Bombi” a secret war. Only few turned to public televison to see such a documantary film. People I work with have no clues about a secret war, how Lao people suffer from their government actions. How some of us lost family members during the war and still today lao people in Laos still can not farm their land because there are still unexplode bombs left behind. It’s going to take up to thirty years or more to clear the land.
    Some lao people I know think Laos is a land of filts, they will never step their foot back in Laos ever again. I feels sadness when I heard this because there are so many stories have yet untold by people left behind I yearn to hear more of the similar story.
    I look forward to go back to Laos every year and spent sometime with children whose know nothing about the war and assist them as much as I could to give the opportunity for them to have better life than their parents.

    • salalao, my mom had 8 daughters and we had to work at a very young age, my sisters and I started working in a sweatshop sewing in Chinatown when we were in HS, so we didn’t have time to hang out, plus my dad was very strict.

      The situation in Laos is sad, especially the school situation where they lack the funding and some, the motivation to better themselves mainly because it’s a hopeless situation. It’d be interesting to know how some go back and help, especially yourself, I always like to read a story such as this.

    • I also saw the PBS documentary “Bombies” and was very sadden by it. To my surprise, these type of bombies are still being made and used today. I need to make my own review of it at Cambree Notes.

      It’s such a shame that we have come this far and yet there are still wars being waged and people having to flee their homes. What ever happen to becoming more enlighten? 😦

      “The fundamental rights of humanity are, first: the right of habitation; second, the right to move freely; third, the right to the soil and subsoil, and to the use of it; fourth, the right of freedom of labor and of exchange; fifth, the right to justice; sixth, the right to live within a natural national organization; and seventh, the right to education.” -Albert Schweitzer.

      • Cambree, war is nothing new and the Internet and news are making us aware of it more. It’s sad to see and read about it, and to think that we were once like this and there are many that are facing this now, I don’t know if it’ll ever end. My third sister didn’t get to see this because she couldn’t stand to watch any war film.

        I think it’s the power and greed that stand in the way of enlighten. 😦

  14. I forgot to add that, another Nerakhoon was from some of the Lao children who was lucky enough to escape from death and war with their parents. Instead of taking advantage of America’s freedom, they resort to joining gangs and continue to live like savages even though there are so many choices to choose from.

    The excuse of living in the ghetto does not get easily by me, because even if you live in the ghetto, doesn’t mean you should become it. My family and I live in the ghetto when we first came to America, so I know first hand. But instead of suppressing ourselves and wasting our mother’s milk and courage, we choose to live the smart way. This is done by getting an education and advancing ourselves. Why put all the struggles that we went through in vain ? Why let gangs and violence kill you? Most of us escaped Laos to get away from bombs and guns, but instead those kids choose to play with guns still. That is the betrayal that is inflicted upon the parents in this documentary. Sadly, it is true for a lot of Lao families here in America. What a waste.

    • lady0fdarkness, I think we understood the situation well because we once lived and grew up in the ghetto, and we found our way out, but not everyone is as lucky as us.

      The Nerakhoon from the children is definitely there, but sometimes I wonder if some Lao parents paved way for this. I’ve seen many Lao parents, even the older generation spend a lot of time at their friend’s house to gamble and neglect their children, and as a result, they follow the footstep of their parents, children without supervision is not always the best thing, and if they hang out with the wrong group of people, they can get into a lot of trouble. There is a Thai saying, “once you ride on the tiger’s back, you can’t get down” and I think this holds true with gangs, kind of sad. 😦

  15. lady0fdarkness, I wouldn’t be too proud to get an education and leave the ghetto. We should be proud that a country like America is giving us an opportunity leave the ghetto and have an opportunity to learn about the humanities. If you had been in Burma, good luck moving up. Those left behind in the ghetto have many reasons why they are still there. First, they wish they had better parents who had inspirational things to say to them everyday. Instead, every morning their mom cries out, “you’re good for nothing.” In order to help them from the ghetto, we mustn’t let them know that they have any disadvantages. Most probably have poor reading comprehension skills, not to mention they have a hard time reading or lack interest in reading. Let’s imagine you have these problem. You will have difficulty moving up. But put a little drop of what we call “drive,” you will move up with or without any reading skills.

    The Lao gangsters probably feel betrayed by the well-off Laotians. Some are stuck in a cycle they cannot break free. They want what we want and they don’t understand why the wealth and protection isn’t shared with them. They will try to get them thru violence, the one trade they know well.

    Because of our differences you will find that most cities are divided into four regions. Southeast region of the city is mostly known as the ghetto. This is the part of town where certain behavior will feel comfortable there. However, the government will try to move people around so you have ghettos littered throughout the city.

    Have a little compassion and allow those who wish to dwell in the ghetto, peacefully do so. Protect their rights and lifestyle, unless they are damaging the planet. It’s our job to squash gang problems. Gang violence should be unacceptable because they put fear and stress in people. Stress leads to illness. But in the video the girl calmly talks about her home invasion and they are not reporting it. What we can do is install surveillance cameras and report gang crimes. Gangsters could smell fear in us. Because of that they will continue to commit more crimes. Don’t fear the gangs. Show them you mean business when you want peace.

    • Zeddic, I know what you mean, too often that I see Lao people that have made it look down on other fellow Laotians that still struggle to survive, I think many of us have forgotten where we come from too fast too soon. With today’s economy, favorable situations can turn to the worse overnight, the working class in America is slowly diminishing and creates a bigger gap between the rich and the poor, and for some of the younger folks, it’s harder to achieve what our parents once achieved in life, especially for American people. I think American way of life is changing, and every financial choices that we make, we better make it wisely.

      And for those that have not realized this and it hasn’t hit you yet, look around and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  16. Zeddic, There’s no reasons why the Lao gangsters should be betrayed by the “well-off” Lao people. As far as I’m concerned, we all came on the same boat. When I look at the Lao faces around me, I see me in them. I see my mother who escaped bombs and gunfire on her bare feet. Once we got to America, we were smack dabbed in the ghetto where drugs and gangs were very real. So I know first hand cause I’ve been there. And no, I did not let gangs and drugs and violence suppress me, I made a choice and got an education and used America’s freedom to my advantage.

    Those Lao gangsters could “dwell peacefully” in the ghetto for all I care; I’m just disgusted that they took their parents courage and hardship in vain. I know I’m not one to judge, but I do not condone and justify those who inflict pain and violence on others. Those gang members sure love violence.

    • Nye’s got a point, when the economy hits rock bottom with the predicted “greatest depression on earth,” all of us will share the same lifeboat with the gangster, it will be fascinating one to see. They have the guns, knives and know how to eat can food to survive… we, on the other hand, live in clean a clean neighborhood, and can probably die from eating three weeks old food, we are going to suffer. And from the gangster point of view, Karma to what they deemed evil has just arrived. In this scenario, your paper money is now worthless, your power is now equal to all mankind on the streets, (or inferior if you’re clueless about surviving on the streets.) Get your defenses ready because they can smell your disgust towards them…

      Actually I’m Zeddicus, some name typo.

      You have to get this straight, I was referring to ghetto civilians, not ghetto gangster can dwell peacefully. Parents, brother and sisters of gangster are innocent and some are frightened. If you’re not afraid, then show them. We must protect their liberty. If you don’t want to protect them then where is your humanity. Your experiences as a refugee and living thru the ghetto was suppose to enlighten you. Next to life, you might experience another refugee plight. And, again, the cycle of war and displacement of people continues… End the cycle now, understand why you were given the experiences in the first place.

      • Zeddicus, I thought Zeddic is your nickname or something, but I knew you’re the same person.

        I do fear the “greatest depression on earth,” and by then I should be more prepared than this, growing your own food is a good start. I know my Hmong neighbor wouldn’t have any problem, they’ve everything that they ever need in their own backyard, they’ve great survival skill.

        Karma is a funny thing, if education is your ticket out from the ghetto, then your choice of life puts you right back in the ghetto. I knew a Lao girl from NC that I was told had graduated from college here locally, and is now working in NYC, and the part of town that she lives in is a ghetto and she works in a banking institution. Obviously her living condition is getting worse, but the cost of living such as rent is very high, it’s the choice that she has made, she didn’t have to accept the job in NYC and here she is living amongst gangsters, sometimes I think to myself what give?

        When I see people I often think, we don’t know the life that they live in until we walk in their shoes. So it’s not fair to say, “if I were you, I would do this…” because you’re not them, they don’t have the same logic and reasoning as you.

    • ladyofdarkness, very well said…. i’m actually standing up and applause(clapp.. clappp.. claapp) to what you said.. you’re so right about we all came on the same boat.. i know what is like to live in ghetto project housing. my parents are constantly making sure that we are not hanging around with the wrong crowd, which is easy to do.. i actually know couple of the guys on this film…. back then, i didn’t think those guys are hard core gangster..

      • seeharhed, do you know Loung Kuntee? I think 2 of his sons were in the film, Sompit and Vongvigit.

        I knew a family that lived in the same building as us in Brooklyn, they moved to Stockton, CA, one of the sons, Lerd is in prison, he joined a gang and killed somebody in NYC, and the oldest son and younger daughter moved there with him, I often wonder how they’re doing. Do you know them, the father’s name is Gan.

        • Nye,

          Hhmmmm I don’t think I know them. Most of the time, I wouldn’t know those guys real name or last name. I only know them by their nick name. Although, Lerd is a familiar name and there’s 2 or 3 Lerd that I know of. It is been so many years since I have any contact with Laotian community. I still have few very close lao friends from the ghetto days that I talk to. One of them live not too far from your town.

          • seeharhed, true, most would only go by their nickname, I’m the same here, most people don’t know my real name. When ever we run into people that we knew from Brooklyn, it’s always good to hear from them, we sometimes would see them at Wat Lao Buddhavong, but not very often.

    • lady0fdarkness, I think “choice” is the key word here, we all made choice that lead to who we’re today, and every choice has consequences. I think when we first came to America, we all struggle to survive in the ghetto, it’s so wrong to put us there in the first place, here we were from Laos, we don’t speak the language, our survival skill was put to a test, think how scare most of us were at the very beginning. Even when I walked the right path, but sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I got beat up real bad by gangsters, but I learned to survive in the ghetto, even though I don’t live there anymore, but it has made me of who I am today, still a very paranoid person.

      Even though we came on the same boat, I can’t say that we have the same opportunity, as obvious that our ability is different, some don’t excel well in school, and some that came at a later age had to help their parents work and missed out the opportunity to attend school, I’m always grateful to my older sisters that made those sacrifices for us younger kids, and I see this in many Laotians. With choice in life, sometimes it doesn’t come around again, but with education, it can be shared just like I can help them when ever they need my help. When I see younger educated Laotians looking down on those that are not educated, such as some of my older sisters, I’m not sure what that said about them as a person, just because they’re educated, they don’t have the right to look down on others that don’t have that opportunity, and now they’ve their nose up in the air, I’m telling you it’s cold up there.

      All of us want to get out from the ghetto and we took the opportunity that’s given to us, some are book smart like yourself that chose education, and some are street smart that chose to join gang, most don’t think that it’s a permanent situation and this is a way to get out from the ghetto, but like I said earlier ‘once you ride on the tiger’s back, you can’t get down’ or you’ll be eaten alive, just like joining gang. We all made bad choices in life, but some choice has a detriment consequences and when you are young, you lack the power of reasoning and peer pressure is everything. I think Lao kids joining gang is a problem in today society, the gang is not just in the ghetto anymore, it’s in the middle and working class as well.

      • Nye, I am grateful for my older sister sacrifices too. She was working full time and going to school at the same time. I would never ask my parents for the money, but I always go to my sister. Not too many times that she would say NO to me.

        I guess it happens everywhere, educated laotian looking down to the rest. I’ve seen it a lot here in CA, it is so unlike for laotian to be like this.. Normally, our people are very humble people and respectful. Oh well, I guess time has changed. One thing I’ve always learned.. never forget your root, where you came from and who brought you here.. That’s what I’ve been trying to injected to my nieces and nephew.. I don’t want them to loose that trait of being laotian.

        • seeharhed, I often feel that the arrogant and stuck up ones are the one with the chips on their shoulder, not just amongst the Laotians, but in many ethnic groups as well. Perhaps the Internet has changed that for some of us, you don’t know who is who and some choose to be anonymous such as you or myself, but there’re still many that boasted arrogantly about themselves, this can be a turn off IMO. I often think that education would soften people’s heart and made them more humble but that is not always the case at all. As for me, I think it’s Buddhism way of life in Laotian lifestyle that has made some of us humble, but sadly many of us have stepped away from that, we’re too busy with our own lives.

  17. We all came from the same boat meaning we all came from the same predicament; war, starvation, loss, death, disease, and sorrow.

    However, I very well understand that each of our situations and conditions may have differ once we landed in America, but let’s face it, we all seek the same thing which is freedom. What I’m trying to say is that it is very unfortunate that some of those Lao kids have chosen the wrong path. A path to self destruction and pain, putting everything that their parents have worked for in vain. Obviously, the goal for most of us is to live the American dream and to escape war, that is why we are here in the first place. So it is a shame that those kids decided to resort themselves to gang and violence and even killing their fellow Lao people. If I were the parents and I had known that my children were going to be gangsters, I’d leave their asses in Laos so they can play with the guns they seem to really love.

    A high school education is free in America, so if a gangster can’t even get that, then I’m sorry but that person is a dumb ass. Just to clarify, I’m not saying that education is everything. Both my cousin and sister does not even have a diploma, but they are not gangsters. They are actually managers of a company. These are the very same people who used to live in the ghetto, who used to go to school with those gangsters. Again, I am disgusted of those Lao gangsters.

    When I watched the documentary, I saw so much pain in those people as they buried their son, the gangster who got killed by a rival gang. What a shame.

  18. By the way, my level of education is a high school diploma. I don’t have a fancy college degree nor am I rich. I’m just speaking from the heart of a Lao person who suffered a lot of grief when it comes to the war in Laos.

  19. lady0fdarkness, I know what you mean, you speak like a feisty young Lao parent, those thoughts came through my mind also, but it seems so harsh and I often wonder if things could have been different, if the parents could have done something different, perhaps a bit more strict. When I was living at the apartment in Brooklyn, I beat up one of the boys on the rooftop because he was picking on my younger sisters and also calling me “E’ cat eyes, E’ tiger eyes” and I was so afraid that my dad would punish me, but he didn’t, I think he realized then that I had to defend myself.

    I think Nerakoon is a good documentary film, we have so much discussions but since we came from different backgrounds and different parts of the US, our ideas and experiences are different, it’s good to share, education shouldn’t matter here.

    Zeddicus suggestion is a bit extreme imo, it’s hard to not live in fear when you’re living amongst sharks and gators, but for some of us that still living in the ghettos, we learn to adapt to the lifestyle and be extra careful, just like we did back then. But it’s good to hear from a superhero point of view. 🙂 Just don’t go out there and squish all the bad guys at night.

  20. We have a lively discussion here!

    I think Zeddicus is wanting us to feel more empathy for other people, in this case, it’s Lao people – whether they are in gangs or from the high lands, low lands, can barely read & write or went to Oxford University. I believe with empathy, there will be less misunderstanding, more peace and enlightenment in our world.

    But what is empathy? I found this definition of empathy: “The feeling or capacity for awareness, understanding, and sensitivity one experiences when hearing or reading of some event or activity of others, thus imagining the same sensations as that of those actually experiencing them.”

    When I was younger I found it difficult to relate and understand why people would want to be in their awful predicament. But with age, I’ve gain some perspective and hopefully more wisdom. First thing is to not be too quick to judge anyone. Like Nye said, “we don’t know the life they live, unless we walk in their shoes.” 😉

    And with the state of the world these days, some say we are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    See idiom at

    • Cambree, it’s a scary time that we live in, and I never thought that I’d see so many bad things in such a short time. For some of us, it’s hard to be empathy when we’ve problems of our own, and some might not know how, or just not wanting to.

      The phrase ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ is new to me, kind of scary just thinking about it, the uncertainty of the future is scary, but the most that we could do is to try to make the best today and hope for a better tomorrow. I just hope when the other shoe drops, it won’t drop on my head. 😉

  21. Hi, guys.

    I also believe that having an education doesn’t make a person more empathizing of others. They need a first hand experience or watch a documentary like Nerakoon.

    Today, they put fluoride in our water, they put mercury or aluminum in our vaccine, all of which is destroy our intelligence. We are being dumb down again and again when some of us are already dumb to begin with. We grew up eating fishes in the local river only to be told years later, “it’s full of mercury.” Yet, we still ask them, “why can’t they get themselves out of the ghetto?” It’s like asking them to build a rocket…it won’t happen.

    I don’t have a college degree either, I can’t even read a book before dozing off to sleep within three seconds. So I understand what those gangsta must feel flunking classes.

    Gang problem usually gets worse when they go unreported. But when we report them we’re marked a dead man. They feed upon on fear. I’m no superhero to solving this problem…;) I’ve flunked classes and got bullied in elementary schools. But today (at our prime age) we must advocate to protect those who are weak. Advocate for surveillance camera in bad street corners. Limit exit road paths for drive by shooters. Don’t litter, erase gang tagging. Have lit areas, no loitering signs. Encourage neighborhood anonymous watch. Make sure funding for gang task force doesn’t dry out. Advocate for new technology to fight gangs. Break up kid fights and have them shake hands, it takes a village to raise a kid. Be serious, and really want peace to happen. If theirs nothing you can do just pray, meditate or ask for peace for that particular neighborhood.

    Often, kids join gangs in order to survive. Give them love and attention and protection, listen to their every single problem, instead of playing poker all day. Work hard and pay for what they need to live a normal life. Allow them to stay home, or move if a gang fight is to happen. If you can’t afford it or couldn’t figure out how to discipline problem kid, don’t have kids. Don’t vaccinate your kids unnecessarily. There are known scientific facts supporting vaccinations and dumbing down people. If the parents were given an education on how to raise children then the city may not have gang problems. In the old days in Laos, kids who reach puberty are requested to be a mini-monk for at least a week which helps keep them away from crime. In there, they learn about peace, patience, accepting diverse types of people and have no interest material wants. If they are a problem kid, they’re the #1 choice.

    I think Nerakoon is fascinating because I can see why the kids need to join gangs. They have little options. They try to make good decisions, decisions that are impossible to keep. It could be because of their gene for risky behaviors. Genes for lack of direction. Their dad is not around to set a good example or help discipline them. Or maybe this civilization is not made up for them, it’s too complex. They are new souls that need a more simpler place in time. 🙂

    • Zeddicus, seems like a lot of heavy issues that you put in front of us, at this moment I felt like Thavi when he said with a heavy heart, “I didn’t make these kids, why do I’ve to deal with the problem?” But our children or not, when the problem is in front of us, it’s hard for anyone to ignore.

      I think when you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it, seeharhed mentioned about not having enough funding for this and that, but yet in some towns, I see cameras at stoplights ready to take picture if you violate the traffic law, talking about modern technology at work, so having a surveillance camera in bad street corners shouldn’t be a big deal, some people already have this aiming out to the street corners. Many on the list are already in practice, it does take the whole community to keep an eye out for one another, a good example was when they called the cop on Bo for standing at the school bus stop.

      We blame the children when there is a problem, and blaming society that we live in, but yet we fail to blame ourselves, I also think that the root of the problem starts at home, too often that I see Lao parents absent from their children’s life, perhaps too busy with their own lives. Children from a broken home often have more emotional problems and they’d vent out their frustration in various way, then the parents would complain, I didn’t raise you to be this and that, but yet, where were you when they needed you the most, maybe too busy camping out at your buddy’s house gambling or at the casino and don’t come home till you lost every penny that you got. And this vicious cycle never end. And to say that Lao children raised in America, they don’t listen, look and listen to yourself when you say this, many times the problem is right in front of you but you just don’t see it.

      • Nye, very well said… home is like a foundation, without a firm foundation everything will fall. It is understandable that most parents are busy with work, some even work 2 jobs. Therefore, parents doesn’t have time for their kids activities.. such as doing homework, taking them to ball games, or even spending time around them.

        When I was growing up, one thing that my parents can’t help me was doing homework. It is not their fault at all and I realized at early age that I have to push a little harder. Although they were able to provide a loving home.. good foods and constantly reminding us to do the best we can.

        Oh Nye.. regarding those traffic camera, it is a good source of income for the city. Basically, it doesn’t cost the city anything at all. The city allow a company to install all those cameras on City property and get portion of each violation tickets. That’s why this type of ticket is so expensive. Here in my town, the base price of this type of violation is $278 and by the time you add taxes, other fees. You’re looking at about $325 ticket. So, the city probably get between 25 to 30% of the fund without doing anything. The rest goes to the company whom install those cameras.

        • Seeharhed, thanks for clarify about the traffic camera, I kind of thought that it’d generate more revenue than cost, but didn’t realize that it’s contracted out to a private company. They’ve many in the Virginia area that we passed on our way to Wat Lao Buddhavong, we even have it here in Charlotte, NC, but not where I live, I recon our town is too small.

          Parents having to work so much is also a problem, and the more kids that they have, the more mouths they have to feed, there is no simple solution but that’s the price for having so many kids, and children without close supervision is not a good thing, I guess that’s why I only have 1.

  22. Zeddicus, all those things you mentioned are all ideal but… how many city would have such a resource of funding to address all those lists you mentioned? i would say…. not many.. when i turned on the news or read the paper, the city always talking about laying off workers or put them of furlough. therefore, many of the programs will be cut and those ideal lists of yours will have to wait awhile..

    sports saved me from going down the wrong path.. i was busy with sports and never really had the time to do other things.. unlike, some of my buddies that didn’t play sport, they all ending up doing stuffs that would get them in trouble. like.. stealing the cars, stereos, and eventually got into drugs… it is part of growing up in the ghetto and way of life in order to survive..

    • seeharhed, sport is one of the ways to get kids off the street and getting into trouble. We were once kids and we all want to belong somewhere, I didn’t join gangs but I can see why some join. It’s not all about the love of violence, it’s the sense of belonging at the very beginning and when you live in the bad side of town, that need to belong is even greater, they got your back sort of speak, and before you know it, you’re in too deep, you act your part…big and bad.

      But if the home is where the heart is, then they don’t need to belong elsewhere.

Comments are closed.