Manager's Message: Taking Electricity For Granted
Most of us don’t remember life before electricity, and the many conveniences it makes possible. We don’t remember lighting candles or lanterns to extend the day beyond sunrise to sunset. We don’t remember hours of back-breaking labor to pump water, wash clothes, or do farm chores to feed the family.
Did you know there are 1.2 billion people around the world who still live without the benefits of electric power? But we’re doing something about it, one village at a time.
Over the past 50 years, since President John F. Kennedy signed the first USAID-NRECA agreement to use the cooperative model to electrify rural areas of developing countries, NRECA International has provided access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity to 110 million people. NRECA is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, assisting electric co-ops in 47 states with safety, communications, and legislative/regulatory programs.
For these women, men and children who have benefitted from our work, life has changed and improved in the form of better education, health, access to clean water and economic opportunity. Agricultural productivity, millions of new jobs in micro and small enterprises, and higher incomes and quality of life for rural communities in more than 42 countries around the world are NRECA International’s measurable outcomes.
The work is done by volunteer lineworkers and others who take time from their co-op jobs here in the U.S. And now it’s Michigan’s turn to become involved.
Two linemen from HomeWorks Tri-County will be part of a 10-man team, building a four-mile distribution line to connect the tiny mountain village of Buena Vista, Guatemala, to the electric grid. The villagers, who will become part of an electric cooperative in the region, are already clearing trees and setting poles - by hand - in the steep terrain.
Over three weeks in November, the Michigan team will build a single-phase distribution circuit, hang transformers, and install simple wiring (one light bulb and one outlet) in homes. They won’t have bucket trucks or most of the modern tools that make these jobs much simpler here in the U.S.
HomeWorks Tri-County has supported NRECA International with small donations over the years, and we’re excited to be part of this next step, putting boots on the ground where they’re needed so badly. Our linemen will come back knowing they’ve changed these villagers’ lives, and their own lives will be changed as well.
We take electricity for granted every day. Bringing electric power to a remote mountain village in Guatemala is a way to reach back to our roots and remember what life used to be like before farmers started working together in the 1930s to form electric co-ops in rural America.