Lineman Chris Mynhier and Line Foreman Troy Sams of LaGrange County REMC were a part of a team of electric cooperative volunteers from Indiana who participated in an international initiative to bring electricity to developing areas in Guatemala.
The project, called Hoosiers Power the World, was coordinated by the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (ISA) in partnership with NRECA International Foundation, an affiliate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association based in Arlington, Virginia.
Two crews from Indiana each spent two weeks in August and September working alongside Guatemalan municipal employees in Hoja Blanco in the department of Huehuetenango—or Huehue (way-way). The villages are located in the northwestern highlands and often referred to as the “Frontier Zone.”
“When the United Nations announced 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, the LaGrange County REMC board recognized it was the perfect time for us to participate in an international electrification project,” said Mark Leu, CEO. “This is the first time we’ve been involved in an international initiative where we 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 which most now take for granted.”
Mynhier and Sams spent their two weeks in Guatemala at the end of August. Daily tasks which are completed quickly and easily here weren’t as simple in a part of the world where poles stand on the side of mountains reaching 5,000-7,000 feet above sea level, power lines span up to 100’ over large valleys, 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 worked with in Hoja Blanco formed the first-ever rural electric cooperative in Guatemala. Our volunteers experienced a full-circle moment when they witnessed a child’s face turning on a light at their home for the first time,” added Leu.
LaGrange County REMC is a Touchstone Energy distribution cooperative that delivers electric power to nearly 7,000 member owners in LaGrange County and areas bordering in Elkhart, Noble, and Steuben Counties.