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HAWA provides culturally specific programming for survivors of sexual assault in Milwaukee

HAWA's Education & Outreach Director, Vina Xiong.
Vina Xiong
HAWA's Education & Outreach Director, Vina Xiong.

Culturally specific programming

Hmong American Women's Association, or HAWA, is a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 1993 by a group of 13 Hmong women.

The very first program they offered was a Paj Ntaub Circle.

HAWA has evolved by responding to the needs of the Hmong community in Milwaukee.

Today, HAWA offers culturally specific programs, services and education around sexual assault, domestic violence and gender-based violence, but their work certainly encompasses more than just those programs and services.

HAWA has a community resource center that includes a community closet, classroom and computer lab.

Additionally, HAWA has youth programming to build youth leadership in the Hmong community.

Hmong history

Wisconsin has the third largest Hmong population in the country.

Hmong people are an ethnic group with a specific language and culture. Hmong people originated in China and lived there autonomously for centuries.

Hmong people migrated to Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand in the 19th century to escape suppression and Chinese imperialism.

While U.S. military forces directly engaged the North Vietnamese in Vietnam, the CIA waged a "secret war" in Laos.

Laotian Army General Vang Pao, who was Hmong, recruited and trained Hmong soldiers, with support from the CIA, to fight against the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese.

According to an NPR report, American warplanes dropped an average of one bomb-load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for years in Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country in history.

Fleeing persecution and imprisonment, Hmong people came to Wisconsin as political refugees following the end of the Vietnam War.

More information and resources

Our Peaceful Home (OPH) is a domestic abuse project of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition (MMWC). The MMWC is an organization with over 25 years experience in advocacy, education and outreach. OPH is a culturally specific domestic abuse program that provides culturally informed education, safety planning, intervention, emergency housing and advocacy, as well as qualified interpreters for victims and survivors.

The UMOS Latina Resource Center (LRC) provides comprehensive, holistic supportive services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. The center serves all genders, races, ethnicities and age groups.

Diverse & Resilient’s Room to Be Safe Anti-violence Program serves LGBTQ survivors of violence throughout Wisconsin.

The Asha Project believes in the existence and provision of culturally specific methods to better address the elimination of gender-based violence and the sexual exploitation of women and children in African American communities.

HIR Wellness provides culturally responsive advocacy for Native American/Indigenous and underserved victims of crimes. They are a survivor and women led matriarchal organization providing the next generation of care to victims of crime and violence.

Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center's Circles of Strength Program offers safe and confidential healing services for individuals, children and/or families that are experiencing or have experienced physical, sexual, psychological and/or emotional abuse.

The Black & Brown Womyn Power Coalition builds the capacities of Black and Brown advocates and their communities to end violence against womyn, queer and trans folx and young people by providing training and resources through holistic and culturally responsive and appropriate approaches.

Sojourner Family Peace Center is the largest nonprofit provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin.

ManForward WI organizes and mobilizes Southeast Asian men and masculine folks across different Wisconsin regions to end gender-based violence and deportation.

Rafael Muñoz-Echavarria was WUWM's community engagement coordinator 2022-2023.
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