FREE e-scribe now!

This week’s edition!

Cambodian community to build center, first-in-Maine temple

WESTBROOK, ME (August 11, 2023) – Maine’s Cambodian community today held a press conference announcing the launch of its fundraising campaign to construct a Cultural & Community Center and a traditional Cambodian Buddhist temple on 30 acres of land in Westbrook.

“Today… we are launching a project and capital campaign called ‘Welcome Home’ to build a new cultural and community center and spiritual home for the Cambodian community,” said Navan Leng, president of Watt Samaki Temple, which is spearheading the initiative. “Our plans include building a community center where Cambodian culture, arts, and music can find a home and also serve as a place for English language classes, food pantry, and community gardens. Our project is not just a temple for the Cambodian Buddhist community. We are exploring partnerships with land trusts and trail organizations to look at improving and building publicly accessible trails that connect to the City of Westbrook’s existing trails and City Forest lands.”

Watt Samaki Temple (Temple) is currently located in Buxton, Maine, on a small 8.6 acre parcel. The community has outgrown the location and worked with Coastal Enterprises, Inc., to secure financing to acquire the 30 acre parcel at 00 Cumberland St., Westbrook, ME 04092 (official street address pending). The Temple and its community partner Khmer Maine are currently engaging civil engineers, wetland biologists, and other experts to prepare for the formal planning board approval process. The Temple and Khmer Maine plan to hold neighborhood meetings to get feedback from neighbors on potential plans and uses for the land.

“Maine’s Cambodian community is small but mighty, around 2,000 according to census figures. Since refugees of the Cambodian genocide started arriving in the 1980s, our community has moved beyond Portland and Sanford to surrounding areas, like Westbrook, Gorham, Windham, Saco, Biddeford, and some now even in Augusta and Bangor. Our children go to Maine schools, our young men and women join the armed forces, our entrepreneurs start their own businesses,” Khmer Maine President Marpheen Chann said at the press conference.

“Our community has called Maine home going on half-a-century now and just like the Irish, Italian, and French Canadian communities who came before us, it’s time to come forth and say ‘We are Maine, too.’”

Also present at the press conference were Westbrook’s Mayor Michael Foley and Marcel Ntagora, a community engagement specialist at the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

Mayor Micahel Foley spoke in support of the project, saying, “As the city of Westbrook continues to diversify… the community center and the temple that will be here will be a tremendous benefit to the community and to the region. As we saw from the Cambodian new year celebration this year they bring a lot of people in to celebrate in Riverbank Park earlier this year.”

“And this plot of land is unique as it’s connected to the City Forest which connects into a number of trail systems as well as our community center. So it will be a unique economic development opportunity to bring people to Westbrook from all over New England to worship here but also connection to trails and recreational opportunities….”

The Cambodian community is seeking support for its development of a cultural & community center and traditional temple. Individual donors can give at and companies and corporations who can make monetary donations and donate lumber and building supplies can reach out to

About Khmer Maine

Khmer Maine is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to improve the quality of life and the social and economic well-being of Cambodians in Maine through cultural exchange, community building and civic engagement. Khmer Maine also partners to support members of Maine’s Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities and strives for solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities in Maine.

Leave a Reply

Contact Us!

Sales Office:
28 State Street
Gorham, ME 04038

Mailing Address:
89 Union Street, Suite 1014
Auburn, ME 04210

(207) 558-8488

Connect with Us on...
Gorham Weekly on Facebook Gorham Weekly on Instagram Gorham Weekly on Twitter