Khmer Maine is led by Marpheen Chann, President; Sosanya Pok, Secretary; and four Board Members. Theary Leng Ryder is part-time Executive Director. The nonprofit formed in 2018, but became more active in 2020. Anyone who identifies as Cambodian in Maine – approximately 1,600-2,000 people in the greater Portland area, as well as south to Berwick – is automatically a member of Khmer Maine. The first wave of Cambodians to settle in Maine came in the 1980s and 1990s as survivors of the Khmer Rouge.
The group works 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. Khmer Maine has provided three rounds of care packages to people in need in the community. These include culturally appropriate foods, such as rice and fresh vegetables; protective gear such as masks and sanitizer; and diapers if needed. The group has also organized volunteers to provide interpretation services at medical appointments and drive seniors to COVID-19 testing, vaccine clinics, and other medical appointments. Volunteers also help people fill out documents, such as unemployment claims and emergency rental assistance program claims.
April marks the Cambodian New Year, and the group has events planned throughout the month. These include dance, music, a family day, a documentary screening, traditional games, and a commemoration of the genocide at the end of the month. Khmer Maine aims to close the cultural and linguistic gap between elders and young people who were born in the U.S. by offering educational programming, youth programs, and summer trips.
Contact: Theary Leng Ryder, [email protected].