"Faith in Alhambra" is a snapshot of the diverse range of churches in the city.
Just west of the heart of Main Street is the American Hai Ninh Community Association. Visitors are met with the distinct smell of incense that pervades the space. Peter Hui, the organization administrator, tells how he connected with the association as a refugee and its role as a place of worship and community meeting center.
What led to the forming of the association?
The association started from a group of Vietnamese Chinese who came from Hai Ning Province in Vietnam after the Communist take over in 1975. Our founding leader, Wong Yu Sheng, was a general in the South Vietnamese army and helped advocate for us as the first group of immigrants to the US. We had our first location downtown in 1991, and then moved to Alhambra in 1996.
We are a non-profit organization that serves the immigrant community as well as a place to continue Chinese cultural traditions. We also give money and send people to help with service projects back in Asia, like the past Sichuan earthquake and floods in Taiwan.
How did you get connected to the association?
I was one of the first boat refugees from Vietnam in 1975. We escaped by a small boat and connected to a larger boat bound for Malaysia. We ended up staying in Malaysia for a few years before we were able to immigrate to LA in 1986.
What sorts of activities are done here at the association?
Twice a month during the first and 15th of the lunar calendar we have a vegetarian meal for the community. The association is always open for individuals to pray to Guang Yin (the Buddhist goddess of mercy) and Tien Hou (the goddess of fishermen). Every year, we have several festivals including a lantern festival, Lunar New Year festival, and a May festival where we remember our founding leader.
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