Judith Saumweber

COUNTRY: Cambodia, Thailand
CITY:Thai border and Phnom Penh
FOCUS:Health, Pastoral, Peace and Justice


Judy was born and raised in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. She studied Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Minnesota –Duluth. Upon graduating worked with the Metropolitan Council in the Twin Cities, planning services and supports for older people in general, and later for resettled older refugees, which led to her first relationships with Cambodians in Minnesota. She married Dave in 1984 and had their son Nick in 1986.

Judy joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners from 1989 to 1993. We worked in Site II Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian border in a program to assist older Cambodian refugees. As the 20-year war in Cambodia was beginning to end, in 1990 Maryknoll started work in the capitol of Phnom Penh. In late 1991, Dave and Judy were transferred there and worked at a skill training center for people with physical disabilities. Both in Thailand and Cambodia Dave and Judy were also involved in supporting the peace movement by helping with walks, vigils and other events. We ended up staying involved in Cambodia until 2002.

She continued to work with people with disabilities: first administering a prosthetic clinic, and then as advisor to the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization as they organized to advocate for rights and full participation in society. In 1998 they adopted Seyha, who was 7 years old at that time. She continued to work on peace-related initiatives until they returned to Minnesota in 2002.


Since 2002 Judy has worked for Axis, a residential provider for Minnesotans with developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or mental health issues as Program Development Specialist. She likes to bike, cook, read and she loves to travel, both near and far. She is a Friends Across Borders Guide.