• In 2009, I began teaching western quilting techniques to Hmong elders at Kajsiab House in Madison, WI. Having recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, I was aware of the plight of the Hmong people.

    During the Viet Nam war years, the US and CIA operated the “Secret War” in Laos (1963-1973). The US enlisted the aid of the Hmong people as ground troops in Laos. When the US left Southeast Asia, the majority of Hmong were abandoned, and subjected to Lao Communist retribution. Starting in 1975, Hmong people fled through the mountain jungles of Laos and across the Mekong River to refugee camps in Thailand. It was dangerous but necessary for survival; many Hmong did not survive. Eventually, many Hmong were allowed to leave the Thai refugee camps and begin new lives in the US, France, Canada, and Australia. As Americans, we owe the Hmong a huge debt.

    My weekly teaching efforts over the past 3 years have been extremely rewarding. I have learned as much from these warm and talented women as I hope I have been able to teach. In the Fall of 2012 my interview with Nancy Zieman was broadcast on PBS's Sewing With Nancy show. To view this interview online, please click here to visit the following site: Martha Sumi on Sewing With Nancy

    I present on this website a photo album of my experiences with Hmong people in Thailand, Laos, and here in Wisconsin at Kajsiab House. In Hmong, Kajsiab (Ga shee’ ah) means "the relief of stress and tension from worrying about the safety of loved ones."
  • Hmong Market in Laos
    Hmong Market in Laos
  • Hmong Textile Market in Thailand
    Hmong Textile Market in Thailand
  • Hmong woman with baby carrier
    Hmong woman with baby carrier
  • Hmong Woman's Sewing Workshop
    Hmong Woman's Sewing Workshop
  • Young Woman in Grove near Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Young Woman in Grove near Chiang Mai, Thailand