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I was born hearing for a short time and became deaf after I got sick. My mom was 14. I was born in Thailand and lived in a refugee camp in the mountains.

Kaomang, 35
Incarcerated: 21 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

I was born hearing for a short time and became deaf after I got sick. My mom was 14. I was born in Thailand and lived in a refugee camp in the mountains. There was a war at that time, so they brought all of us to America when I was nine months old. I have three brothers and three sisters that were all born in Richmond, California. I attended public school with a group of deaf students. The teachers were my full support system. They helped us because we all have struggles with the English language, our culture, and being deaf. My mom still hasn’t learned any English or sign language. So, she can’t communicate with me. I

have been struggling to communicate with her for years. I became frustrated because I need unconditional love from my siblings and I need someone to talk to. I always saw my parents commit domestic violence in front of all my brothers, sisters, and me. I thought it was normal. I got in a lot of trouble at home and in school. So they put me in eight different foster homes, and that made it worse because they also couldn’t communicate with me, no one knew sign language. It led me to more anger, violence, and emotional trauma. It led me to destructive behavior that caused me to harm someone, which led me to prison with a life sentence. It took me some time to make a change to be a better person. When I started to participate in a variety of self-help groups, it changed my attitude of violence to self-control. I learned a lot about my past mistakes and learned how to take control of my own life with a positive attitude. I thank God for blessing me every day and guiding me on the right path.

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