It Takes the Power of Many
Getting a job done isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes more than 12 months of planning, 24 member electric co-ops from Indiana and Arkansas, 28 volunteer linemen, thousands of total miles traveled and hundreds of pounds of equipment. The end result: The provision of electricity to three rural villages in Guatemala for the first time ever.
The work began in mid-April, when the Project Indiana crew traveled to Sepamac to construct about four miles of single phase line. After more than a week of grueling work in triple digit temperatures, an old tradition was followed—Dan “Doc” Denu, the oldest member of the crew, climbed the pole to energize the main line for the first time. They were soon joined by the Arkansas crew—Operation Razorback Guatemala—to participate in the “Inauguration Ceremony” where the whole village showed up to witness the power of light.
As the Project Indiana team left for home, the Arkansas crew began constructing about four miles of primary and secondary lines in two other small villages—but not without first being blessed by the villagers in a special ceremony. And perhaps that blessing gave them the extra boost: The overpowering heat, rain and challenging terrain did not slow them down. With the inspiration and encouragement of the villagers and their children, they finished ahead of schedule. And the towns of Zapotal and Jolom-Ijix began a new life.
At the completion of this mission about 1400 men, women and children received electricity, and began a better life.
Electricity Changes Everyone’s Lives
The people in these communities have received light and all the benefits that come with power. However, the volunteers’ lives have changed too.
Duane Highley, president and CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas said, “There is no way to explain the emotions involved with seeing someone flip the switch and have power with their homes for the first time.”
Commitment to Building Stronger Communities
It wasn’t the first time Indiana and Arkansas volunteer linemen boarded planes to help families they had never met. Working closely with the NRECA International Foundation, co-ops from both states had previously traveled to Guatemala to provide electricity to the country’s remote villages. But this is the first time two states worked together on a mission of this scale. The collaboration between the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the Indiana Electric Cooperatives was managed and supported by NRECA International staff in Arlington, Virginia, and Guatemala.
A Stronger Brotherhood
Today, many of the linemen are still reflecting on their individual experiences. A stronger brotherhood has been formed, with a greater appreciation for what they have at home, and a deeper understanding for the communities that live with so little. Read more about Project Indiana and Operation Razorback Guatemala experiences to be inspired. And to learn more about how you can get involved with the NRECA International and the Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.907.5645.