Phalen Lim fled Cambodia at the age of 2 in 1975, during the regime of the Khmer Rouge, and has never forgotten what it was like to start over as an immigrant in a new country. Now, the community leader is being awarded with a $25,000 California Peace Prize, reports The Orange County Register.
Lim and her family initially sought out help from the service agency The Cambodian Family (TCF) when they arrived in Santa Ana, California. Now, as the director of youth programs for the organization, Lim's job is to support and inspire young people to become balanced, healthy leaders. Serving refugees and immigrants, The Cambodian Family's emphasis is on community health, such as trauma resolution and stress reduction, employment services and youth programs.
The California Wellness Foundation, a private group whose mission is to improve the health and wellness of Californians, will present the peace awards tonight in San Francisco. It applauded Lim as an "integral leader in an agency that combats gang violence and promotes cultural pride and understanding in Santa Ana."
Lim mentors around 60 Cambodian and Latino youths, and impresses upon them the importance of working with what they have. She plans to put some of the prize money towards her son's education, and allocate a portion of it to the youngsters at The Cambodian Family.
Despite these accomplishments, she remains humble:
"I must have done something good to deserve it," she says now. But she's quick to add: "It's not just about me. It's about the work that I did and about the people that I serve."
You can donate to The Cambodian Family here.