100%

funded

Total loan: $9,900

Lula

Flag of United States
Paducah, KY, United States / Food

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A loan helped a woman-owned social enterprise expand her healthy fish business and provide second-chance employment to people in drug recovery programs after being released from jail or prison.


Lula's story

I was born in Saigon, South Vietnam the day before the US pulled out of our country. You may have seen photos of US Army helicopters with desperate people hanging on. That's when I was born. Since my dad was part of the South Vietnamese Army, he was captured and imprisoned by the communists. I barely knew him and he died soon after his release some 20 years later before I could see him again. Meanwhile, my mother and I were persecuted for the first 7 years of my life. We attempted escaping three times. We were captured the first two times and my mom was put in a “re-education” camp. After her release, we tried once more and succeeded. We went to sea in a small ship like the Syrian refugees of today and made it to Malaysia. For the next year we were in 3 refugee camps until sponsored by a church in Tennessee. Because of them, we were some of the few fortunate people to finally leave the camps to come to the US. I was 9 when we arrived. I grew up in Oak Ridge Tennessee. I learned English very quickly and excelled in my studies. I received a full undergraduate scholarship to University of Rochester. I was then accepted into the Nutritional Sciences PhD program at the University of Kentucky. I supported myself fully as a graduate student through my own research grants. Afterwards, I did my post-doctoral work in ethnic diabetes research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After my training, I started a not-for-profit health-related community agency in New Orleans just before the big BP oil spill. It was from the work we did there with Vietnamese Gulf shrimpers that started our business that became FIn Gourmet Foods.