A proud new citizen from the Karen Ethnic Community

Last Updated on

Story by Sunday Htoo; Photo by Hsa Mu Lei

Logansport resident Hae La Moo became a new citizen on June 1, 2020. None of her family members or friends could go to her Oath of Allegiance/naturalization ceremony in Indianapolis because of the COVID-19 crisis. She said that only six people became citizens and she was the only Karen/Burmese in the ceremony.

Hae is 31 years old and the mother of four children. Her oldest son was born in a refugee camp in Thailand.  In 2001, her immediate family and five families of relatives walked for more than a week with only a handful of rice for each person to eat each day, leaving Karen State in Burma, to reach the Nu Poe Refugee Camp in Thailand.  She finished sixth grade in the refugee camp.

Hae said that the place where she lived in Burma was near a Karen army base. She jumped into the rice field in a dry ditch while the bullets were shooting everywhere from the attacking Burmese Army.  

Hae resettled in Indianapolis in August 2008 and moved to Logansport in 2012.  She passed both her learner’s permit test and driver’s license test in 2018.

She said, “I had to take the Learner permit test more than ten times and often had to walk to the BMW to get there. Before this, I could not drive.  I had to depend on my husband and my friends. My husband worked a full-time job and my children could not participate in any school activities. My husband had to drive us (my children and me) to the laundry, grocery store, and everywhere.”

Now, Hae Moo drives her children to appointments, school activities, the park, and the other cities. She also helps and gives rides to Karen families who do not have a car or cannot drive. She drives them to church, appointments, stores, and work.

To be able to pass her citizenship interview, Hae Moo enrolled in the English Language Learner (ELL) class at the Logansport Adult Learning Center in 2019.  She also attended citizenship class at The Bridge Community Church, Immigrant Connection.  She practiced reading and writing and studied all one hundred questions of the practice test.  It was really hard for her.  When she had her citizenship interview, she was still shaking even after she learned she passed the test and went to the parking lot.

Hae said, “My husband and my children are my supporters. My children and my little sister helped me to pronounce the words correctly and sometimes they asked me to repeat a word. I want to thank my teachers at the Adult Learning Center so much. They helped me a lot. I also want to thank the teachers and people at The Bridge Community Church who helped us in the class and interview practice, too.”

Hae Moo will continue her studies at ELL class until she can read, write, and speak better English. She said, “At least if I do not need to ask people for help to read for me whenever my letter comes from the mailbox….then I will be happy.”

The author, Sunday Htoo, fled Burma as a refugee and proudly became a naturalized American citizen in 2020.  She is a writer whose dream is to share the stories of her Karen ethnic community.  She resides in Logansport with her husband and two children. She works at Area Five Agency on Aging & Community Services and at LCSC/Adult Learning Center.