Kosciusko REMC linemen Kelly Neace and Jeff Moore are part of an international initiative bringing electricity to remote villages in Guatemala for people who are still washing clothes by hand, gathering firewood daily so they can cook, and carrying buckets of water for drinking.
The project, called Hoosiers Power the World, is being coordinated by the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., in partnership with NRECA International Foundation.
“When the United Nations announced 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, the KREMC board recognized it was the perfect time for us to participate in an international electrification project,” said Steve Rhodes, KREMC president and CEO. “This international initiative will change lives forever— much like our rural electric pioneers did for families across the nation 75 years ago. We can now pay it forward for some very remote areas of Guatemala that have never experienced the wonder of electricity.”
Two crews of Indiana electric cooperative linemen will each spend a couple weeks in August and September working alongside Guatemalan municipal employees in Hoja Blanco, Huehuetenango—or Huehue (way-way). Neace and Moore will respectively depart for Guatemala on Aug. 18 and Sept. 1, respectively, and return on Sept. 1 and 15. Daily tasks which are completed quickly and easily back home won’t be as simple in a part of the world where poles stand on the side of mountains reaching 5,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level, right of way maintenance is performed with a machete, and holes are still dug by hand for setting poles.
“Our excitement increased even more, when we received word recently that the municipal utility we’re working with in Hoja Blanco will form the first-ever rural electric cooperative in Guatemala. Our linemen will experience a full-circle moment when they witness a child’s face turning on a light at their home for the first time,” added Rhodes.