Under the watchful eye of Scott Carter, who gave up his job as a mechanical engineer in South Carolina to come to Thailand, they are doing nothing less than rebuilding lives. As CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports, they're doing it one fishing boat at a time.
"Maybe we can't solve all their problems," says Carter. "We're never going to take away the trauma but maybe giving them a boat or helping them rebuild their house will give them a sense of direction - a sense of purpose that life goes on."
Jen Rudolph is part of a special Peace Corps. program for the tsunami. It's a six-month commitment that meant quitting her public relations job in Boulder, Colorado.
Asked why she decided to put her life on hold, Rudolph says: "I don't look at it as putting my life on hold, because my life is here now."
Khao Lak, a once-thriving resort area well north of Phuket took the brunt of the
Roger Parent, 66, wanted to work with a hammer when he came here, but they handed him a mouse and asked him to use the skills he learned during his two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana in the '80s to help organize.
At his age, most American men are out hitting golfballs or enjoying retirement.
He's here, because, "I've always felt like one creates one's own life, and you do it through good works," says Parent.
The reality is that no amount of American helping hands is going to make a dramatic difference until tourism comes back, until the rubble of these five star hotels is rebuilt back into rooms and the people of Khao Lak can go back to work.
The hotels are being rebuilt ever so slowly. This area once boasted 6,000 hotel rooms. After the tsunami, about 600 were left. It will be years before they all come back.
Which brings us back to those boats and Carter, who is making a difference now.
"My payday is everyday we send a boat down the ramps and a fisherman goes back out," he says. "You know that feels good.
"From a purely selfish standpoint, yeah, that makes me swell with pride."
That's the Oyster Catcher ready for sea. It's not just a boat. Think of it as a fisherman who can work and feed his family. Think of it as what they need here most of all: a new beginning.