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Electrifying the world: one village at a time

Chris Meyers

I recently had an experience that made me contemplate how abundantly blessed we are. Last month, I had the privilege of visiting two remote villages in Guatemala where volunteer co-op linemen from Oklahoma and Colorado worked to bring first-time access to electricity. These poverty-stricken villages, Pie del Cerro and Tierra Blanca Salinas, lack access to basic necessitites such as food refrigeration, plumbing and running water. The villagers are no strangers to hard work; they labor from sunup to sun down making sure they have food on the table to feed their families; they rely on crops of corn, coffee and spices for sustainment and for trade.

It was an honor to witness the hard work of volunteer linemen at these villages and the bonds they formed with the local people. Our volunteers collaborated with a local municipal utility, Empresa Municipal Rural de Electricidad (EMRE), working on a span of nearly nine miles of line to bring electricity to more than 100 homes, two elementary schools, two health centers and five churches. At the lighting ceremony, also known as “Inauguration Day,” local leaders expressed their gratitude to our team. They sang the national anthem of Guatemala as well as the U.S. National Anthem. It was a moving moment where the bonds of friendship were strengthened above international boundaries.

Despite their economic hardship and lack of material possessions, the people of Guatemala are filled with joy and gratitude. It is our hope that access to electricity will aid in their economic prosperity, enhanced education, better access to health care and a higher quality of life—just like it did for us in rural America when electric cooperatives were formed. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my newly formed friendships in Guatemala, the gift of electricity that they will enjoy for generations to come and for the many blessings we partake of with our families and friends here at home.