[Spotlight] Montagnards ask for community support
North Carolina has the largest population of Montagnard immigrants outside of Southeast Asia. Most of the 10,000+ refugees who settled here in the wake of the Vietnam War. The Montagnards paid a heavy price for their loyalty to the U.S. troops, who became their comrades in arms and still live in or near Greensboro.
While fewer Montagnards are coming to the Triad as refugees than was the case from the 1980s through the first decade of the 21st century, there are still thousands in Guilford County who desperately need assistance with such issues as employment, social services, doctor appointments, transportation, interpretation, English classes and college/financial aid applications. They also need help with green card services and becoming citizens of the country, so many of them or their parents fought for.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, the Montagnard Dega Association, Inc. will partner with the Montagnard American Association to host their first annual fundraising gala at 6 p.m. in the Meridian Convention Center at 312 W. Meadowview Rd. in Greensboro. The event includes dinner, drinks, a live band, a fashion show, performances and speeches from assistant city manager Trey Davis; CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Stand Dion Buonto; statewide base organizer of the Southeast Asian Coalition Sun H. Buijur; and founder and executive director of Jalloh’s Upright Services of NC Franca R. Jalloh.
“Our mission is to unite and strengthen fraternal ties of all persons of Montagnard heritage and create an environment conducive for us to have opportunities to meet, promote higher education, cultural preservation, and understand and mutually help each other,” said Liana Adrong, administrative coordinator of the Montagnard Dega Association (MDA) and Vocational Instructor with the Montagnard American Organization (MAO). “As Montagnard refugee resettlement decreased, we decided to expand the mission and scope of the organization to include assistance to other refugee populations. In recent years, young Montagnard people have come together to strengthen the community as Montagnard American Organization to promote higher education and cultural preservation under the banner of MDA.”
Adrong told YES! Weekly that the 300-seat fundraiser is sold out, but that the organizations are asking the community to “make a small contribution toward the work we are doing at MDA, so that we may continue to assist those who are in need in the community. Your contributions will be used for direct services to a nonprofit organization and should be tax-deductible.”
The various tribes and cultures commonly called Montagnards (French for Mountain People) in the West are the original inhabitants of the region that became modern Vietnam. “We are many tribes,” Adrong said, “including Jarai, Rhade, Koho, Bahnar, and Bunong, and have many traditions, but we are united under the name Montagnard. During the Vietnam War, many Montagnards fought alongside American soldiers against the Communist North Vietnamese government with the hope that one day that we would be freed from colonial rule. Most villages were destroyed, and over 200,000 of us were killed, and some were sent to prison. In 1986, Montagnards received special consideration for refugee status from the U.S. government because of their role in the war.”
Adrong said that donations could be made via PayPal by clicking on the “Donate” button on the website.
Issues faced by some members of the local Montagnard population have been covered in the YES! Weekly articles Fighting longer than the USA: The 24-year war of Y’Khiem Ayun and Trump Administration raises concern in the Triad Montagnard community.