Year Joined MKLM: 1996
City: Phnom Penh
People Served: HIV/AIDS patients
Project(s): Finance Manager (CFO) for Maryknoll HIV/AIDS Response Program including the following projects: Seedling of Hope, Little Sprouts, Little Folks, Bridges of Hope, and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)
Project Goal(s): The overall goal of the program is to provide holistic care to those HIV/AIDS patients who are the poorest of the poor. The services include: hospice care, food, rent and medical support, residential care for HIV+ children, education assistance for children of our clients, jobs training, prevention of mother to child transmission, and AIDS awareness education.
Suzanne (Sami) is from St Paul, Minnesota, but came to MKLM in 1996 from Phoenix, Arizona. Before becoming a lay missioner, Sami worked for many years within the banking system, including as an analyst/auditor. She received a BS in Finance from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She was very involved in St Luke’s parish in the Diocese of St Paul/Minneapolis, including serving as a liturgist, Eucharistic minister, and member of the budget committee. She has volunteered time at a reading service for the blind. She has traveled extensively in Europe, speaks Spanish, French, and German, and has studied several other languages.
Sami transferred to Cambodia from Venezuela in 2008. After language school, she started working as the Finance Manager for the Maryknoll HIV/AIDS Response Program. She oversees the accounting staff for all projects, prepares periodic financial reports, liaises with funders, prepares the annual budget, and supports the Project Managers, among other duties.
Sam is also helping to shape the roles and responsibilities associated with this new and vitally important position. In the past, the individual Project Managers performed the financial oversight function with no time to devote to other aspects of their project. The goal is to create the Finance Manager position which will then be turned over to a local person.
While in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Sami’s primary ministry was in a project called Pavia Community Development. Located on the outskirts of the city, Pavia is a still-developing community of 15,000, somewhat of a cross between an urban barrio and a rural village. Most residents live in extreme poverty, working to scrape together a little money each day to pay for food. Sami helped with administration of a community grocery store, taught music to youth, and led Liturgy of the Word celebrations in an outlying community.