Peace Begins With Me

by Eiei Phoo
Last Summer I received a scholarship to attend the 2014 Global Youth Peace Summit sponsored by the Amala Foundation. I belong to the young women’s program, Apsara’s Warriors, at CERI, and our program coordinator, Jen Jastrab, asked me if I would be interested in attending the summit. She helped me fill out the application and offered to drive me to the camp. She really wanted someone to represent CERI at the summit. All Jen could tell me was that my experience would be amazing and I would meet people from all over the world. It was true.
 The summit took place in beautiful Forest Hill, CA.
The most important thing I learned at the Amala Global Youth Peace Summit Camp is that people shouldn’t go to sleep with a stone in their heart. This is really hard for some people because some people choose to keep the things that bother them inside their heart and they’re afraid to let their inner emotions be heard. Trying to sleep it off only makes it worse.
I learned how to let go my of negative emotions and my burdens.


At the Amala Global Youth Peace Summmit Camp, I developed a strong connection with my cabin girls. Their life stories spoke to me and I really felt like I connected with them. I met amazing people from all over the world and their words of wisdom inspired me.




This experience made me realize that I shouldn’t care about what people think of me. I should focus on me. I also realized that it’s okay to tell someone how you feel and to ask for help from people.




I learned from the other campers and the staff, that people have their struggles, and when they get through them, we all come out stronger.





I love my Amala Peace Family and I really do miss them. I would recommend other people come to this camp because it helps you to find your inner self and connects your beautiful self with amazing people who are sharing the same experience as you. At Camp Amala you will make friends and learn to ask for help. You won’t feel like you’re alone, you will always have someone by your side.



Funding generated from Prop 63 and awarded through Alameda County supports the youth programs at CERI.

CERI Community Graduation Celebration – Summer 2013



On June 21, 2013, streamers and balloons festively decorated CERI in anticipation of a special evening. Outside the pillars of the building were adorned and inside the young women prepared festive tables and posters for their guests. Grandmas and moms joyously prepared a delicious Cambodian buffet. The rooms of CERI were bursting with family, friends, supporters, volunteers, and community partners.

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 CERI proudly honored three graduating members of ROYA (our youth program):  Thavery Hov, Cynthia Mok and Moustra Johnny. Thavery, a working mother of two, received her GED and High School Diploma. She was awarded a small scholarship from her high school and has already enrolled at Chabot College. She will begin her studies this fall in the field of Child Development. Moustra graduated from Middle School and will attend High School. Cynthia graduated from Oakland Tech High School and aims to attend Merritt College in the fall to prepare for a career in nursing.

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Parents, grandparents, friends and families were beaming with pride as they witnessed the success of the young women. Each graduate wore her cap and gown, had photos taken, and was honored with flowers, gifts and verbal acknowledgements of their accomplishments. Emotions were high for many of the attendees. There were tears of joy, dancing, laughter, smiles and tender moments.


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To everyone’s surprise the young women of ROYA challenged the grandmothers and mothers to a competitive game of musical chairs. The elders proved their advanced skills in chair stealing with each round.  After an initial round, different groups of participants (the young women, the grandmother’s, ROYA staff, and others) also jumped in the fun. The girls took turns playing DJ. This game was truly enjoyed by the community, and resulted in laughter, play, surprise and connection.

ceri june 2013

After the community acknowledgements, scrumptious cake and ice cream was served.


Next fall CERI anticipates the celebration of four additional graduates! We invite you to share in our hopes and dreams. CERI community member, Joe Pech eloquently summed up the sentiment of the evening when he stated,     SONY DSC

“The success of one child brings hope to all of the community.”

ceri june 2013 graduation

MHSA LogoCERI’s youth programs are made possible by: funding provided by Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63 MHSA) Alameda County, support from A More Balanced World, the John Andrew Lang Philanthropic Fund and a number of private donors.

Please consider a donation today by visiting our website:

Photos and text for this posting were contributed by CERI staff.