USAID partners with Peace Corps Response in Typhoon Maysak Reconstruction

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On September 30th, workers in the community of Piis Paneu, a small island within Chuuk’s lagoon, completed construction on the island’s first home as part of the continuing rebuilding efforts following Typhoon Maysak. Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Steve H., led a group of eight Chuukese community workers, guiding them through the work plan designed by USAID and IOM architects and engineers.
Steve previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chuuk and is familiar with the language, culture, and people:
“I was in the Peace Corps on the outer island of Onoun, part of the Namonuito Atoll in Chuuk State, from 1967-69. I’ve had almost 50 years to reflect on that experience and the degree to which it shaped my life...The opportunity to return this year to help in the reconstruction efforts following Typhoon Maysak struck me as an ideal way to express that gratitude in a real way, on the ground. Onoun was hard hit by Typhoon Amy in 1971 and I missed that entirely. This time, I wanted to pitch in and help out.”

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Steve is one of four Peace Corps Response Volunteers working on Typhoon Maysak reconstruction in Chuuk. Acting Peace Corps Country Director, Elizabeth Neason, clarifies the difference between the Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response programs:
“Peace Corps Response is different from our regular two-year volunteers. Response volunteers serve three months to a year depending on the objectives. Their projects are targeted, with a specific set of this case we have an agreement with USAID to provide volunteers in service construction. The partnership seems to be working really well.”
The four volunteers will spend the next year partnering with IOM and USAID as part of the Typhoon Maysak Reconstruction Project, an effort to rebuild homes and public infrastructure in the FSM following Typhoon Maysak in April 2015. Over 50 homes have been constructed on Weno by Chuukese construction workers. The home in Piis Paneu represents the first to be built off of Chuuk’s main island. The Peace Corps Response volunteers oversee the construction while receiving input and guidance from IOM, which is responsible for ensuring that the homes maintain consistency and are built to high standards of quality. Once the house is completed, it undergoes a series of checks and inspections by IOM’s engineers. All of the Peace Corps Response Volunteers in Chuuk were selected based on their expertise in construction techniques:
“My father was a contractor. I learned to work and build with my hands when I was a kid,” states Steve. “Chuuk has great carpenters and many are great with tools. I was familiar with the types of shelter they used, but even more so, I knew the culture. Being able to laugh and make jokes is one of the great parts of being out here. My immediate family is all gone. I felt drawn to do something for my Chuukese family. This story isn’t about me – it’s about them.”
Steve and his team of Chuukese community construction workers