Ba Bar and Monsoon have united for a very special week-long series of Community Partner Days benefiting Afghan Health Initiative, a local non-profit serving the immigrant and refugee community in King County.
As many of you know, Saigon Siblings Group (owners of Ba Bar and Monsoon) is a Vietnamese family-owned company with deep roots in Saigon, Vietnam. The current events in Kabul almost mirror what happened during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Although our families were not part of the 1975 escape, we were deeply impacted by this heartbreaking event and still to this day, remember the loss of our home – our thoughts are with our fellow immigrants and refugees.
Fall of Saigon 1975
Chef Eric Banh’s wife and Ba Bar co-owner, Teresa Nguyen grew up in Vietnam where her country fell to the Viet Cong Communists. It is estimated that around 300,000 South Vietnamese were sent to “re-education camps”, or prison camps. Teresa’s father was one of the many taken to “re-education camp” for over six years after the Fall of Saigon. Teresa’s mother took her two young daughters and sheltered them with their grandparents. After Teresa’s father reported to camp, their family was not notified until five months later that he was indeed still alive, and finally they were allowed visitation.
During this time, Teresa’s father conducted arduous physical labor, not limited to minesweeping and was malnourished to the point where he was forced to eat insects, snakes or whatever he could find. Those who attempted to escape (including some of Teresa’s father’s friends) were shot on site. Teresa recalls visiting her father when she was only seven years old, he was promoted on good behavior to care for the livestock. Upon her overnight stay she commented on the foul smell as she slept next to the enormous pigs. To this day, both of Teresa’s parents can vividly recall the life threatening and heart wrenching stories of how they survived. Thanks to Teresa’s parents’ incredible will and strength, they were reunited in America in 1990.
Fall of Phnom Penh 1975
Chef Sophie Banh’s husband and Monsoon co-owner, Sowady Chhoukdean grew up in Cambodia where his country fell to the Communists at the same time as Vietnam. A mere two weeks before the Fall of Saigon, the Khmer Rouge (Communist Party of Kampuchea) took over Cambodia and was responsible for the Cambodian Genocide. In less than four years they killed more than two million Cambodians. Sowady was a recent engineering graduate with plans to go to Paris to earn his master’s degree when the Communists took over Cambodia. He escaped death many times and was forced to walk along a highway for seven months in the heat, food was scarce, and he went hungry most of the time. Finally, he reached family members who lived 20 miles from the Vietnamese border who hid him in their home for two months until their Vietnamese neighbor agreed to take him to Vietnam for $300 US dollars. This was an incredibly tumultuous and difficult time in his life that he feels grateful to have survived, as many of his friends and family did not.
Eric and Sophie’s late father was from Cambodia and went to Vietnam when he was in his early twenties. He lost many of his family members during the Cambodian genocide including one brother-in-law and a few cousins.
How You Can Help
Ba Bar and Monsoon are banding together for a special 5-day September Community Partner Day where each restaurant will donate 10% of proceeds from the day to the Afghan Health Initiative. We feel very close and connected to what Afghan refugees are going through right now and our heart goes out to them.
*Participation includes dine-in and takeout.
Please join us for as many of these dates as you can and help us support the Afghan refugee community which is in great need right now. We feel so fortunate to be in a place where we can help others and we kindly ask for you to join us in this effort!
Dates + Locations
Monday 9/6 Monsoon Seattle
Tuesday 9/7 Monsoon Bellevue
Wednesday 9/8 Ba Bar University Village
Thursday 9/9 Ba Bar Capitol Hill
Friday 9/10 Ba Bar South Lake Union
About Afghan Health Initiative
The mission of Afghan Health Initiative is to serve the immigrant and refugee population in Washington State by promoting community-based public health interventions which target social determinants of health thereby increasing equal access to health, education, and economic independence.
Our goal is to advocate for our community to ensure they are counted in data and their needs are not only known, but met through equitable culturally and linguistically appropriate health and social services. AHI acknowledges that this change is systemic, complex, and gradual. AHI believes this goal can be achieved through addressing social determinants of health and advocating for equal access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for our immigrant and refugee population.
Learn more at afghanhealth.org