Meet Hanna Do, Outreach Worker, "Our Stories, Our Health"
Hanna Do is an outreach worker at SEAMAAC, Inc. in Philadelphia. Hanna explains how her experience as a Vietnamese refugee continues to strengthen her and motivate her to do meaningful, community-based work every day.
If you are an immigrant, tell us what it means to be an immigrant in America. If you are not an immigrant, tell us how the immigrant issue touches you on a personal level.
I am an immigrant from Viet Nam. To be a refugee is to be sponsored by a relative. My father tried to escape from Communism 1980. He spent 4 months living in refugee camps in The Philippines before his arrival to the US in 1981. After 10 years, my father sponsored my whole family to come to the US in March of 1991. I was 32 years old when I left Viet Nam. When at first I came to the US, I suffered many hardships such as language barriers, culture differences, transportation, and difficulty trying to find my way around the city. At first, I worked in a factory and had to walk about 20 blocks from my house to the factory every day, even in cold weather. I did this for about 5 years. I also got lost en route from house to factory, and I felt socially isolated because of my language barriers. Sometimes I felt anxieties and despair of being an immigrant. However, I tried overcoming that difficulty. During that time, I had no money to go to school, but I learned English from books. It was a long struggle, but I created new opportunities and improved my life in America.
For better or for worse, how can or how do media (TV, movies, radio, and news stories) make a difference in immigrants’ lives?
Media as TV, newspapers, brochures, etc. help immigrants, me, and my community to know new information. It helps me and people to understand and improve our lives in America. Media helps the people to understand how to access health care. It helps people to adapt culturally. But I still feel very sorry for most Vietnamese elders because many are illiterate. So they are faced with a lot of difficulties about language and communications.
Tell us about an interesting or wise practice from another culture that you wish Americans would adopt.
For Asians as a whole and Vietnamese in particular, most parents want their children to complete school and graduate successfully from university. Keep culture, cultural studies, and respect for elders, especially parents and older people.
How could immigrant health and well-being be improved in your city or in the United States?
In Philadelphia, at doctors’ offices, health care centers, and health fair events, we have a lot of information, brochures, and material in English and foreign languages. This helps a lot of immigrants to improve their health and well-being. Doctor-patient communication is something to make better. The city needs more free interpreters at hospitals and health clinics.
Tell us something about your background that led you to become the person you are today. What is your greatest motivation/motivator?
I like to help people in need. I love to help communities. That is why I have been working with SEAMAAC for about 13 years. During the time I am at SEAMAAC, I am really enjoying my job, because most of my clients are refugees and immigrants and I understand that they face language barriers and a lot of hardship, too. When I am at SEAMAAC I just think about my community, partnerships, connections, and network. I spend my time to provide the services to my community to help the community members be stronger and stand up for themselves. In my mind the community should always come first. I try to do my job as best as I can.
At present, I am a Vietnamese outreach worker. I am responsible for a few programs such as Refugee Outreach program, Intergenerational Program, New Routes “Our Stories Our Health” and Jook Breakfast. Doing this job effectively requires working very well and it’s a pleasure to help people. The greatest motivations and most rewarding experience for me is building the trust with the elders and serving them with patience and respect. When helping them and working with them, I know I must always be aware of their culture, their habits, and their traditions to understand what they need and why.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.