1,000 cranes, one wish from refugee youth – to keep health care protections: Cathy Vue (Opinion)


Cathy Vue of Asian Services in Action.

AKRON, Ohio — According to Japanese legend, one who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish. This legend has been embraced and adapted among various cultural communities. As often celebrated in the United States in westernized wedding ceremonies, the engaged couple would fold 1,000 origami cranes in hopes of gaining one wish that they can someday trade in during a time of need. Although the legend has evolved over time and tradition, in Asian cultures, origami cranes are universally recognized as a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times.

In Akron, Ohio, a group of refugee youth from Afghan, Bhutanese, Congolese and Hmong communities are taking the challenge to fold 1,000 origami cranes for one wish.

Their wish is that Sen. Rob Portman will continue to stand against the Affordable Care Act repeal bill.

As the Senate continues to negotiate the repeal of the ACA, many communities from all backgrounds feel the real threat of an ACA repeal. We lie down at night, worried and concerned about what the future of health care will be like for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.

What does Sen. Rob Portman want? Can he get to ‘yes’ on health care?

Fangyu Wu, a newly single parent, is one who has been helped by the ACA. After an unexpected divorce, she found her children and herself without coverage. Due to the protections of the ACA, Wu was able to apply for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for her three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum. She was also able to purchase a plan from the ACA marketplace which allowed her to keep her primary care provider and see her psychiatrist for her depression. The ACA allowed Wu to feel at peace knowing that she and her children were covered while she got back on her feet.

Fangyu Wu is not alone in supporting the ACA. A survey conducted in Ohio by the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Civic Engagement Network of Ohio revealed that 71 percent of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in Ohio support the ACA in its current form without repeal, while 29 percent responded with support for ACA but with improvements. It’s a simple fact that the ACA benefits Ohioans.

While folding the 1,000 origami cranes, one Congolese teen raised her hand and asked, “What is a wish?”

Humbled and stumped by the curiosity and pureness of the question, an Asian Services In Action Inc. staff member explained, “A wish is something you hope to happen that feels far away… kind of like when you look up at a star and pray for a miracle to happen because you want it to become real. Not too long ago, health care was only a wish for some people but it became real with the ACA. Unfortunately, now it can be taken away.”

The teen smiled, looked down at the piece of origami paper in her hands, and responded, “Well then, I will keep folding so we can get our wish to come true.”

Though Sen. Portman has come out to show opposition against the current bill, we are asking Sen.Portman to vote “no” on any ACA repeal bill that will take away care from Ohioans.

Sen. Rob Portman says he opposes GOP health care bill — after bill was yanked

Grant the wish of our children and families, Sen. Portman, and protect the millions of Ohioans who depend on affordable health care.  

Cathy Vue is manager of the Community Health Evaluation and Research Institute at Asian Services in Action Inc. and focuses on health equity issues. Vue’s family resettled in the United States as refugees from the “Secret War” in Southeast Asia, when Hmong allied with the CIA during the Vietnam War. She is a first-generation Hmong-American in the United States.

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