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Vulnerable Hmong community stays connected

St Paul, Minn. — A Woodbury man has an answer to connecting our older refugees who are at home and not able to socialize right this moment due to coronavirus.

He states he just needs the help of techy individuals and the internet.

Hmong Tham Peb or ‘Casual Talk’ is the brain child of Tou Ger Xiong. It’s where a tech-inclined person helps this group set up Zoom chat with friends and discuss anything.

There are a majority of Hmong senior centers in Twin Cities that used to serve hundreds of elders on a daily basis. But Xiong said due to COVID-19, they’re closed. He said that’s shutting out a population where a large portion relies on socializing to help cope with their mental health.

The National Center for PTSD said of the few studies about distress over time for refugees, its found, it’s often chronic.

“Studies across the board have demonstrated that refugee elders experience with mental health issues on another level, so this is simply more for their mental health, ” Xiong said. “Physically a lot of them are OK, they just need to check in with each other, ” he said.

That’s why Xiong is asking individuals who know older folks who might require a little conversation time, to help set up a chat for them.

“It’s for refugee and immigrant communities out there who have a grandma and grandpa that hasn’t had interaction with other elders for a long time, ” Xiong said.

It’s easy, free and be filled with belly waves of laughter, Xiong said.