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May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and Faith in the Valley recognizes Pastor Wangki Xiong of Merced as a Hmong faith leader who is passionate about serving his community.
Pastor Wangki, of Trinity Christian Church in Merced, works to support the Southeast Asian community as they face language barriers, information barriers, transportation barriers, and the threat of anti-Asian racism in their daily lives. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Pastor Wangki stepped up as a cultural and language interpreter to work with Faith in the Valley and help Hmong elders feel trust in the vaccine through outreach and neighborhood clinics.
“Having worked for the County of Merced for more than 30 years, I know about the language barrier Hmong elders face, and their fear of the unknown,” Pastor Wangki said. “So unless they truly have a clear understanding of what the vaccine is, they will not get the shot.”
“Right now Hmong elders are at home and they are afraid to go out because of Covid and the anti-Asian violence that is happening everywhere. We are alert and watchful. So we need to reach out to them to make sure that they feel safe.”
This AANHPI Heritage Month, Faith in the Valley celebrates Pastor Wangki and all AANHPI leaders who are working to create a Central Valley where all people from all generations can belong and have access to what they need to build healthy, strong, and safe communities.