Background: The Mien people are one of six ethnic groups that have been called "Yao" for centuries by the Chinese, Southeast Asians, and others. They are located in Southern Provinces of China, North Thailand, Laos, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and now many in the United States. A smaller number of Mien also settled in other counties such as France, Canada, and Denmark. The total world population is approximately 1,600,000, but there is not much written about the Mien people. This makes it very difficult for outside ethnic to learn about the Mien.
Initially, the Mien did not have a formal written language. Missionaries that came to Laos helped develop a form of writing system using Romanized script in the 1940s. This script was later revised and is now widely accepted as the unified script internationally. Due to the late arrival of writing system, there is not much literature written in the Mien language. This makes it very difficult to discover the Mien history and preserve their culture. Over the centuries the Mien have been upland farmers. To this day, most Mien in Asia still work their steep hill field. Living in the horticultural society combined with the lack of literature in Mien and the late arrival of writing system resulted in a majority of Mien who cannot read and write. This illiteracy prohibits the Mien to advance in society which result in a large population of the Mien living in poor sanitation environment and poverty worldwide.
For those who have migrated to the developed countries, their children have grown to adapt to the local culture resulting in loss of the Mien culture. Although some young Mien in these developed countries have obtained good jobs, many have been deprived of education which prevented them to pursue a good career. This is due to lack of leadership in the Mien communities as a result of the immigration of the first generation Mien who are from the pre-literate society. There are no role models or mentors for the young people to follow. This trend continues from generation to generation unless something is done to intervene.
Mien International Enrichment Network (MIEN) will play the role of intermediator to collaborate with other organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies to bring resources to the intervention of the trends of illiteracy, poor health, poverty, cultural and historical diminishment. The mission of MIEN is to enriching the lives of Mien [Yao] people globally through the advancements in culture, education, health, and social & economic development.
Enriching the lives of Mien [Yao] people globally through the advancements in preserving culture, promoting education, promoting health, social & economic development, and discovering history.
Education advancement is the biggest need in the Mien communities worldwide. The following efforts will help advance education for the Mien in all regions around the globe.
The Mien culture has very unique and special features that are important for the identity of the Mien people. For example, the adult name of the men, not only tells who he is but also tells what clan and generation he is from. The way we address each other with high respect also tells our relationship with that person. These are not being passed on in writing. Soon the unique culture will disappear.
The authentic of Mien history is hidden. Mien people don't really have a written documentation of where we come from and where we have been. The Chinese are beginning to take interest in the Mien people. There are three documentaries produced about the origin of the Mien people. However, these are in Chinese and only accessible for those who can understand Chinese.
Promote Health Education and Sanitation
Many Mien who are poor live in environment that are not sanitized and have poor health.
Community, Economic, and Social Development
Many Mien people live in remote mountains and distance villages. There are no schools for children to attend. These villages also lack community centers or churches to gather at. Many Mien live in poverty in these remote villages. They are able to survive only through farming. Some years, when there is s drought, the harvest is limited. They need a way to be consistent in sustainability.