Ka’s Garden

Project begins with grant; proceeds will finance scholarship

ka's garden

From left, Maggie McHugh, UW-L Student Support Services Office; Bee Lo, ‘92, Modern Languages instructor; and UW-L student Vong Lao. The three worked together to publish “Ka’s Garden: A Bilingual Children’s Book.” An initial grant from the UW-L Foundation got the project off the ground. Proceeds from the book will fund a scholarship for a UW-L Hmong student.

Authors of a book about a young girl growing a garden in Laos hope the story not only educates, but also raises money for a UW-L scholarship.

Funding for “Ka’s Garden: A Bilingual Children’s Book” began with $1,000 UW-L Small Foundation Grant in spring 2009. UW-L masters’ student Maggie Lee McHugh, who works in the UW-L Student Support Services Office, received a Research, Service and Educational Leadership grant.

McHugh drew from the research of UW-L students Pa Houa Vang and Ya Cha Thao who had received an undergraduate research grant to study Hmong culture, gardening practices and language.

Originally, they planned to self publish and continue developing the book using grant money. In the grant application, the authors promised to give a portion of the proceeds raised from the book to a scholarship for a UW-L Hmong student.

In December 2009, McHugh met with publishers at Universal Human Publishing to negotiate. The publishers were enthusiastic about publishing a book to help fund the scholarship, McHugh says.

Along with using book sales, the group hopes to finance the scholarship with a raffle for traditional Hmong story/flower cloths known as “paj ntaub.”

McHugh and Bee Lo, ‘92, who teaches in the UW-L Modern Languages Department, wrote the book. UW-L master’s student Vong Lao penned illustrations.

“Ka’s Garden tells the story of a young girl’s first garden in Laos,” explains McHugh. “Through the experience, Ka learns the value of growing a garden. She also learns respect for nature and the interconnectedness of the earth, animals and humans.”

On a larger scale, “Ka’s Garden” celebrates the Hmong way of living in harmony with nature. “The story teaches patience, gratitude and the importance of sharing,” continues McHugh. “Ka’s garden is a place where the earth, plants, animals, and people live together in balance and harmony.”

Find out more about the book.

Featured in the Winter 2011-12 Magazine