Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services’ lineman Greg Falde, along with 11 other Midwestern linemen, visited Guatemala to volunteer their time and skills to bring electricity to rural villages for the first time.

Four Wisconsin lineman volunteered their service including Zach Taylor, Mackenzie Yarbrough, Lee Alberson and Greg Falde. They left for Guatemala on Sept. 30 and came back Oct. 18.

The group stayed in Playa Grande, Ixcan and commuted daily for one and a half hours through rough terrain to their job site in Tierra Blanca Chixoy in north-central Guatemala. They placed transformers, strung wire and built a distribution system while working in partnership with the local utility — Empresa Municipal Rural de Electricidad. All work was done by hand.

Linesmen work on getting electricity to rural areas of Guatemala. The linemen had to climb up utility poles since a bucket truck was not available. Photo courtesy of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services
Linesmen work on getting electricity to rural areas of Guatemala. The linemen had to climb up utility poles since a bucket truck was not available. Photo courtesy of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services

When the work was done, 50 homes had been wired with two outlets, two switches and four light bulbs. The school, church and health office also received electricity.

Volunteers brought water filters, schools supplies and 175 pairs of shoes for the village residents. The project was supported by NRECA International, a nonprofit with the goal of increasing individual and community access to electricity all over the world.