Hmong and Cambodian Community Respond to Journey Closing Kajsiab House and Cambodian Temple


The Hmong Institute and Freedom Inc.


August 31, 2018

Media contact: Peng Her

Nancy Vue

Hmong and Cambodian Community Respond to Journey Closing Kajsiab House and Cambodian Temple

MADISON, WI–The Hmong and Cambodia community is holding a press conference at 12 pm (noon) on Tuesday, September 4th in the front lobby of the City-County Building (210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) to respond to Journey Mental Health Center’s decision to close both Kajsiab (pronounced ka-sheea) House and the Cambodian program on September 28. Community leaders, family members, and clients of Kajsiab House and Cambodian Temple will share how closing these program will impact their lives, their families, and the community. After 18 years of service for the Southeast Asian community, Journey notified Kajsiab House staff on August 7th that they would close Kajsiab House services down as of September 28, 2018. Closing these programs will mean over 400 residents will be without culturally competent mental health services.

Kajsiab House was established in 2000 to provide wrap around services and case management for clients with mental illness to the disabled, Hmong veterans, and elderly. Majority of these elders suffer from PTSD and the trauma of fighting for the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The Cambodian program started in 1990 to provide similar services to the Cambodia community who are survivors of the Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot.

Peng Her, CEO of The Hmong Institute said, “They are veterans, widows of veterans, elders, and genocide survivors. They are our most vulnerable population. Many clients are depressed and have talked about suicide. For many, this is a place of community and safety. We cannot just turn our backs on them. We want to challenge Dane County leaders to work with the community to make sure these programs are not closed and there are no gaps in services.”

Kabzuag Vaj, Executive Director for Freedom Inc. states, “Mental health care is basic human right. Shame on Journey for choosing profit over people – for ending culturally specific programs for Cambodian and Hmong people.”Kajsiab House is a nationally known model that provides culturally competent mental health services for Hmong elders in Dane county. Kajsiab means a place of relief, stress free, and peace in Hmong. It provides a welcoming environment where clients feel safe to express themselves and to receive services in their native language without the negative stigma of mental health. Additional Kajsiab House provides crises stablization services, psychiatrict evaluation and medication.

The Cambodia program is located at the Cambodian Temple. Roughly 1000 Khmer people who relocated to the Madison area in the late 1970s and early to middle 1980s following the tragic Pol Pot revolution in Cambodia. In 1990 the Cambodian temple was established and became a culture community center. People congregate there for ritual and cultural events, and receive culturally competent mental health services such as psychological counseling and PTSD therapy.