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In Long Beach, Health Is Foremost on the Minds of Many Voters

  • Men Kimseng
  • VOA Khmer

A study by Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA found that 25 percent of Cambodian Americans in Long Beach, California, are living in poverty. (Photo: Men Kimseng/VOA Khmer)

A study by Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA found that 25 percent of Cambodian Americans in Long Beach, California, are living in poverty. (Photo: Men Kimseng/VOA Khmer)

Members of the community in Long Beach have struggled with mental health issues, many related to the trauma of Cambodia’s past.

For many US voters, national security and the fight against terrorism are top concerns for the presidential race. However, in Long Beach, California, members of the Cambodian-American community say they are more concerned with issues of health care.

Long Beach is home to the largest enclave of Cambodians in the US, second in the world only to Paris. But members of the community here have struggled with mental health issues, many related to the trauma of Cambodia’s past.

That means they want a US leader who will help provide them with care, said David Ung, a member of the community here.

“I want the president to help senior people to have good health,” said Sath Um, who uses dance as a form of therapy. “We former refugees have lived through a lot of difficulties.”

Cambodian Americans are dancing and doing yoga to help themselves cope with stress and depression, and to improve their health, in Long Beach, California, on Friday 18, December 2015. (Men Kimseng/VOA Khmer)

Cambodian Americans are dancing and doing yoga to help themselves cope with stress and depression, and to improve their health, in Long Beach, California, on Friday 18, December 2015. (Men Kimseng/VOA Khmer)

“Yes, health issues,” said Phoung Houy, another dancer. “And please help our senior center.”

For leaders of Cambodia Town, which is in the middle of Long Beach, like Gary Ung, its vice president, health is important, but so too are jobs and education.

“We’re following closely which candidate’s policies we like and we then make our decision,” he said.

Activists are working diligently to encourage illegible voters to go to polling stations, he said. “Cambodia Town always educates them at every dinner reception, town hall meeting, and several other events, telling them to go vote,” he said.

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