Disaster Ministries Begins Project in American Samoa

Mixing cement Samoa style at the new Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in American Samoa. The site was opened at the end of March.
Cliff and Arlene Kindy, and Tom and Nancy Sheen, served as the new site’s first project leaders in April. The group worked with a crew of Samoan construction interns. Above, Tom Sheen (2nd from right) with the crew.
The Brethren Disaster Ministries site on the island of Samoa has been rebuilding a home for Mr. and Mrs. Fuimaono, shown above with BDM project leaders Cliff Kindy (back left) and Tom Sheen (front left).
(Photos by Nancy Sheen)

Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project has begun on the South Pacific island of American Samoa, repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by the Sept. 29, 2009, earthquake and tsunami. The event caused 15-20 foot waves that reached up to a mile inland, splintering houses, destroying cars and boats, and scattering debris along the coastline.

In the wake of the disaster, 277 homes were destroyed. Thirty-four American Samoans lost their lives, ranking this small island nation number two in the world last year for percentage of population killed in a disaster.

With numerous homes in need of repair, Brethren Disaster Ministries was invited by the American Samoa VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and FEMA to assist in repairing and rebuilding homes on the island.

In January, an assessment team was sent to the island including associate director Zach Wolgemuth and volunteer A. Carroll Thomas, to continue conversations with local partners and develop a plan for involvement.

By the end of March, Brethren Disaster Ministries opened a project to help meet the ongoing repair and rebuilding needs. The effort involves coordinating and managing skilled volunteers from the island, led by BDM volunteers who are trained as disaster project leaders working in conjunction with Samoan construction workers who are employed through the American Samoan government to help repair and rebuild homes.

The first group of project leaders to serve on American Samoa included Cliff and Arlene Kindy of North Manchester, Ind., and Tom and Nancy Sheen of Trinidad, Calif.

— Jane Yount serves as coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

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