Welcome to a special video edition of 50 Stories!
Meet Sonith Peou, a visionary leader and champion for refugees from all over the world.
This week, we’re giving thanks for his 20 years of service to our Health Center community.
After decades of serving refugee communities in Lowell and beyond, Sonith recently announced his retirement. Please join us in thanking him and wishing him well.
Sonith Tribute | Happy Retirement
Hear from former Lowell CHC CEO and others about the incredible contributions of Metta founding Director, Sonith Peou. Thank you for 20 years of healing, hope, and community building!
Sonith was instrumental in filling a deep need – healing the physical and emotional trauma among members of Lowell’s Cambodian community who had experienced unspeakable pain and suffering during the Khmer Rouge genocide.
Many had arrived in Lowell with scant resources and an understandable distrust of government systems. They were unfamiliar with Western medicine and often reluctant to seek the care they needed.
Thanks to Sonith and the team he built, Lowell CHC’s Metta Health Center has become a unique model for similar programs all over the country. This year, both Metta and Sonith celebrate 20 years as part of the Lowell CHC family.
Working with then-Health Center CEO Dorcas Grigg-Saito, Sonith’s vision was to create a place for healing — with an emphasis on cultural understanding. Their shared vision for what would become our Metta Health Center was created with tremendous community input and support.
The Center focused on community outreach, offering a blend of Western and Eastern medicine, building trust along the way. Metta is a Buddhist word meaning loving kindness. And it was with loving kindness that Metta was born.
As Dorcas recalls, “I have always said that Sonith is the best, most intuitive, community relations person and community organizer I have ever had the privilege to work with.”
Over the past two decades, Lowell CHC’s Metta Health Center has grown to welcome not just those from the Cambodian community, but refugees from all over the world. For many, arriving in a new country, learning a new language and cultural norms can be alienating. Finding a place staffed with people who understand — and in many cases had lived through — the refugee experience, in one patient’s words, “was a tremendous relief.”
Although Sonith may be retiring from the day to day work of managing a busy health center, wherever life takes him, he will forever represent the love and healing power of Metta.
“From the moment I met him… I learned from him…. I learned from his kindness, his generosity, his understanding… his never-ending strength and fortitude…. He led us all to do better and to do more than we ever knew we could.” – Dorcas Grigg-Saito
Sonith, we wish you all the best in your retirement and thank you for 20 years of service!