Hmong and Cambodian Community Respond to Journey Closing
Kajsiab House and Cambodian Temple
MADISON, WI–The Hmong and Cambodia community held a press conference on Tuesday, September 4th in the
front lobby of the City-County Building 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 shared 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. A 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
Kabzuag Vaj, executive director for Freedom Inc. stated, “Mental health care is a basic human right. Shame on
Journey for choosing profits 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. Additionally Kajsiab House provides crises stabilization
services, psychiatric evaluation and medication.
The Cambodia program is located at the Cambodian Temple. Roughly 1,000 Khmer people 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 cultural community center. People congregate there
for ritual and cultural events, and receive culturally competent mental health services such as psychological
counseling and PTSD therapy.