Maine’s Cambodian community has been working actively throughout the pandemic to keep community members safe, and on January 2 the community held a pop-up vaccine clinic at Watt Samaki Temple, the Cambodian Buddhist temple in Buxton, Maine. 

The pop-up clinic was a collaboration between Khmer Maine, Watt Samaki Temple, and Local Roots Healthcare. About 60 Cambodian Mainers received their vaccines, including roughly eight who received their first doses. Community members who received a vaccine shot were eligible for a free 25 lb. bag of rice or a voucher to a Cambodian grocery store in Portland. The rice and vouchers were provided by Khmer Maine. There are two Cambodian grocery stores in Portland – Haknuman Meanchey and Serey Pheap.

Khmer Maine, formerly known as the Cambodian Community Association of Maine, is a nonprofit, grassroots organization working to improve the quality of life and the social and economic well-being of Cambodian people in Maine through cultural exchange, community building, and civic engagement.

“I am truly grateful for Kyle Holmquist of Local Roots, Watt Samaki, and the volunteers for making the event a success. The response was great, and people were waiting outside in the cold and rain for their turn to get the vaccine,” said Theary Leng Ryder, Executive Director of Khmer Maine.

 “Some seniors got up early in the morning to prepare authentic food for the medical team and volunteers. It was such a heartwarming experience to see everyone caring for one another,” he said.

“I am overjoyed to have been trusted to administer 60 COVID vaccinations to this amazing and close-knit community.” said Kyle Holmquist, of Local Roots Healthcare. Holmquist is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

“[The] COVID vaccine clinic exemplifies how Mainers take care of each other. I am so grateful for Theary, Khmer Maine, and all involved … this community-organized event proves that it truly takes a village to keep our friends and neighbors safe and healthy,” he said. Meng Yi, Vice-president of the Watt Samaki Temple board of directors, was pleased with the turnout, and with the clinic itself.

“We are a small but mighty community, the Cambodian community in Maine. People come from Sanford, Saco and Biddeford, Buxton, and all over southern Maine to get their vaccines. If we can do it to keep our families and each other safe, and show we care for our elders and community, so can all Mainers across the state.”