October: Courageous Kitchen Ft. Alina
Alina of Courageous Kitchen
Tuk Tuk Box is proud to be a partner of the Courageous Kitchen. Through our partnership, we have the amazing privilege and opportunity to hear the stories of the families we serve.
This October, we got to share Alina's courageous and resilient story:
"I come from a small town in the north of Vietnam. It’s far from the city, in the mountains. There’s a big market, but no 7-Eleven! Only about 300 people live here. The people in my village are Hmong, we speak Hmong at home. I can also speak Vietnamese. I started to study English when I came to Thailand. I came to Thailand because the Hmong people are persecuted in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese government does not like Christians. My dad is a pastor. The police came to arrest my dad and threatened to kill him if he did not stop being Christian. They jailed and hurt him. He had to go into hiding.
There are seven of us in my family. To get here, we took a bus to a city near the Laos border and then we walked across Vietnam to Laos at night. It was dangerous because the police were looking for us.
We walked so far it ruined our shoes. Then we crossed the Mekong River in a boat and finally took a van to Bangkok. The trip took three days.
We could not fly because we decided to leave very quickly. We didn’t have time to apply for passports and visas. My dad didn’t want to be in jail forever because he wanted freedom and freedom to practice his religion. He wanted to have a future for his family which is why we took the risk to go to Thailand even though it was so dangerous.
Bangkok felt so foreign. At first, I thought it was the U.S. because it was so modern. I realized later that it wasn’t the U.S. We ran into a lot of problems in Thailand. For example, we did not have enough food and it was difficult for us to find jobs or go to the hospital because at the time we couldn’t speak much Thai. We also didn’t have passports so we did not have access to the same services. Today, it’s dangerous for us to go out still because Thailand does not legally recognize refugees even though the United Nations does. This means we can still be arrested, detained, and deported.
For example, my older brother is still in IDC (The Immigration Detention Center). He’s been there for three years and a half. He worked in construction and the police came to search the workers for their identification and he didn’t have any legal paperwork. He showed them the UN refugee card but they still arrested him. We had no idea where he was. One day he disappeared for three years. He finally was able to call us and we have started visiting him. Right now, his only options are to stay in IDC or be deported back to Vietnam even though it is not safe for us to be in Vietnam.
I’ve been in Bangkok for eight years. I’ve been working at Courageous Kitchen about 4 years.
Courageous Kitchen helps my community by giving them rice, teaching English and cooking classes every Saturday to refugee kids, and also gives financial assistance to sick families such as paying their rent or medical bills. We teach kids how to cook so they can know how to feed themselves and have a better opportunity for education. I’m working here because I love cooking and I can send money to my family. I teach cooking classes for tourists, teach my community how to cook, and working with our urban garden growing fresh vegetables to eat. Also, I can improve my English.
Right now, my family and I are waiting for resettlement to a different country. Resettlement is very difficult because it is a long process of waiting. We have been waiting for almost 10 years now and the only thing we can do is keep waiting.
My dream now is to be a chef and start my own business in the future cooking Thai, Hmong, and Vietnamese food".
We are so thankful at Tuk Tuk Box to have a platform where we can share stories and bring to light how courageous our community is.