The Hmong Dolls We Lost, and the Story I Found

I Couldn’t Save These Hand-Sewn Heirlooms From a Fire, But I Could Preserve Their History—And Maybe Even Part of My Heritage

The dolls were a seemingly trivial loss in the larger scheme of what went up in smoke when a fire burned through my neighborhood in the summer of 2020.

My family was fortunate to have evacuated in time, but only just so. Except for the few items we carried away with us in the van—in the trunk, under our feet, in our hands—the flames took everything in our home. I mourned the loss of our cultural items and traditional garments—like the suitcase of clothes my pog (father’s mother) received more than …