Caroline Polly, Steven Vang Image source:

The Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce’s (APACC) “Salute to Excellence” event held last Oct. 11 at the Henry in Dearborn turned emotional when a daughter of the owner of the Bangkok 96 Thai Feast, one of the Asian-owned company awardees, delivered a brief remark.

Caroline Vang Polly, daughter of Genevieve Vang who is the owner of Bangkok 96, spoke after she received the award given to her family’s business. Mrs. Vang was unable to attend the event.

Caroline’s remark was about the extreme struggles her mother had gone through when she and her family were refugees.

Some soft-hearted people in the audience shed tears on hearing the story.

Caroline said, “I am accepting this award on behalf of my mother, Genevieve Vang, who couldn’t attend tonight. I would like to quickly share something about my mother, whom I admire so much.

“She had gone through war and hunger as a little girl. She was born in the mountains of Laos but because of the Vietnam War, she and her family became refugees who fled and stayed on safer grounds for many years.

“Safer grounds didn’t always mean freedom. Sometime, the camp grounds on which they lived for years didn’t have enough food or clean water. There was one instance when Genevieve and her mother were put in jail for a few days because they broke the campground rules. They were not allowed to step out of the camp to purchase food to feed the family. Genevieve was only eight years old at the time.

“Another incident that always breaks my heart when I think about it was the time when my mother found a plastic wrapper with an image of a butter cookie on it. She wanted the cookie so badly that she chewed the wrapper for a while just to be content.

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“Forty-seven years later, she is still fighting for her freedom and feeding people in the country because she knows what hunger feels like. She wants to spread the message of hope to anyone affected by war, that where there is a will to live, there is a way. You determine your destiny, but you must help others so the universe can bless you back.”