Saving Chanda's Family

Hello, My name is Elisabetta and I have been searching high and low for a way to keep my family together and to save my children of the heartache from loosing their father.  He is facing being deported and sent back to country that was never a home to him.  Due to our countries unfair, unjust and unethical immigration laws he will be forced to leave his home and everyone he loves behind, all because of one mistake he made as a immature teenager.  Like many people, we live almost paycheck to paycheck and coming up with $15,000.00 for a lawyer (who seems confident that he can help him), seems almost impossible.   We are putting our faith in the world, knowing that there are good people out there who can donate just a little to helping us.  We are on a deadline, in January he will most likely be deported; never allowed to return to the US. 

This isn't just the story of my husband, this is the story of so many Cambodian baby refugees who had to grow up way before their time.  Who where never really given a chance from the start and grew to be products or their environments.

My husband Chanda came to America at 5 years old with his family, as a refugee running from the Khmer Rouge and the War in Cambodia.  Like so many stories of the Cambodian people, they were not only forced to run from such horrific circumstances in their homeland; they had to come to the U.S. and face a whole other world of difficulties ahead of them.  

After the US carpet bombed Cambodia dropping over 500,000 tons of bombs, the U.S. recognized their part in causing the perfect environment for war.  Which eventually led to the Cambodian genocide where an entire country lost almost half its population.  In the 80's the U.S. for the first time accepted mass amount of refugees at once, accepting over 158,000.  They were relocated into poor, over policed neighborhoods with no guidance.  WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A COMMUNITY OF UNEDUCATED PEOPLE WITH SEVERE PTSD!  I don't say uneducated to look down on, or discriminate.  But because they were just that.  The Khmer Rouge just like Hitler, murdered anyone suspected of being educated, smart, different, artistic or held any position of power.

Like so many, my husbands family was very poor.  At a young age he learned to grow up and master the U.S. on his own, with the help of friends who had the same home circumstances as him.  See, most of them had parents who had such severe PTSD that they were alcoholics and most of the children took care of themselves and their siblings.  I'll never forget the time my husband cried because he had to tell our son that he would have to wait a few more weeks to buy him a new pair of sneakers.  I couldn't understand, until he told me the stories of growing up and being picked on so bad for being small, poor and their clothes were't cool or to small.  He once drew Nike signs on his sneakers, so that maybe he wouldn't be picked on that day.  But he was beat up even more for it.  It's no wonder that the Cambodian children growing up in these conditions eventually grew up to be involved in crime and violence.  WHAT DID THE U.S. THINK WOULD HAPPEN? 
...Lets put an entire community of mentally ill people into poor over policed neighborhoods, give them no real life resources and just pray crime doesn't rise.... They were never really given a chance, and were set up for failure from the very beginning.

Everyone chooses their own path in life, and whether or not they let their environment define their lives.  Chanda was a very stubborn child and was always eager to prove himself, and to help his mother provide.  Although as a kid Chanda got into his fair share of trouble, he knew that it was not a life or path that he wanted.  Growing up he even had a teacher tell him and his friends that they should just quit school that they wouldn't go anywhere in life.  Chanda would go on to prove that teacher wrong, he smartend up and became an excellent student in high school.  At the end of his senior year he was set to graduate and go onto college with a scholarship to an art program at one of the top Art Schools in the US.  

But in the month before he graduated, Chanda decided to have a little fun and went to a birthday party where he and his friends would do drugs and get drunk.  That night a horrible brawl broke out outside of the party.  In the end, Chanda would wake up in jail still drunk and be charged as an adult.  His and his friends victim took nearly a year to recover from a head injury, but he did fully recover and has gone on to live a full life.  Chanda has regretting that night everyday since.  He has served his time,  shown remorse for his crime and truly changed his life around.  In the nearly 21 years since that night, Chanda has never committed another crime.

 We have been together for almost 13 years.  In 2007, Chanda and I were eager to welcome our fist baby boy.  Our lives were completely turned upside down when our baby boy was stillborn.  Both of us came out of that tragedy as different people.  We went on to have 3 amazing children, a boy who is now 10,  and two girls who are 6 and 1.  We live our lives trying to guide our children to do good and be good, kind human beings. And we live each day doing just that!  We are an active family in our community, in churches and temples. There is always a lesson to teach our children in everything we do. The fear of my children losing such an amazing father almost cripples me on most days. My husband isn’t just a father, he is a very involved father. Who is at every recital, practice and every game. He coaches and participates in their activities, listens and always encourages his children to make good choices. Chanda is an amazing role model, father, friend and husband. Who works long hard hours to give his family everything he never had and somehow still manages to give his family 100% at the end of the day.

Please help me keep my family together. Please share my story.  And  please show love and kindness two others, for you never know what they’re true struggles are.


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Elisabetta Aceto 
Cranston, RI
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