Video: Volunteer serves tsunami victims

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/6/2006 4:54:02 PM ET 2006-01-06T21:54:02

That awful tsunami a year ago brought forth the largest outpouring of assistance in disaster history. And hundreds of Americans are still in the region helping victims rebuild their lives. But none more committed than David Murphy, a man making a difference at great personal sacrifice.

Dave Murphy’s English requires a translator in Banda Aceh, but his engineering skills, honed on projects like the “Big Dig” in Massachusetts, are universally understood. 

Catholic Relief Services called on Murphy to spearhead its $100 million rebuilding program. He didn’t hesitate despite a 70 percent pay cut.

“You’re in tears watching the amount of need here,” says Murphy.

In Banda Aceh, Murphy everywhere from dawn to dusk embracing the challenges. And he's making a difference: One principal is thrilled she can reopen her school, thanks to Murphy’s help. Tsunami survivors will soon be able to use yet another facility — a hospital.

With so much earthquake and tsunami damage, this is much more than a massive reconstruction project for Dave Murphy. In many cases he has to tear down buildings before he can begin to rebuild.

Ned Colt, NBC News:  You’ve made a detour in your life.

Dave Murphy: A major detour, a major alteration in our lifestyle. But we’re adjusting.

His family certainly is. Everyone, including his mother-in-law, came along.

The family is now living in a world that straddles East and West. Wife Linda is home-schooling their children. A big part of their education is immersing themselves in life in Indonesia.

It’s a life that brings a new set of worries— dengue fever, malaria, and the earthquakes, are concerns according to mother, Linda. One earthquake was so bad, the family briefly considered

It’s all part of an education that 11-year-old Jessica shares in a blog for her hometown newspaper. “Hurricane Katrina has kind of taken everybody’s interest. Everybody thinks that the tsunami is over, but it’s not,”  she says.

It’s certainly not for over for anyone in the Murphy family. And Dave Murphy's work not done. He’s already considering extending his two-year stay.  

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