I had the opportunity to travel to Chiis, a remote village in Guatemala, a few years ago as a part of Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives’ international electrification program, the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation. I will never forget the hardworking and happy people who, without electricity, were consumed with surviving. The men worked long hours away from the home and the women worked all day preparing meals over open fires. The village children assumed the same roles at an early age.
What I’ve come to realize is there are many developing areas in desperate need of the bare necessities. It seems like an overwhelming problem and one that is hard to pick a place to start. Although donations of all kinds are important, the gift of electricity has an especially life-changing and lasting impact on generations of villagers.
In a cooperative effort to increase access to electricity in developing nations, the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) partners with NRECA International, the philanthropic arm for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Bringing electricity to remote areas in developing countries re- inforces our commitment to improve the quality of life for local communities at home and abroad. Currently, 770 million people live without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.
Collectively, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have made possible nearly 600 first-time connections to electric service, impacting many families and local businesses in five villages in Central America and South America.
Power provides these villages options and opportunities for the future—no longer will they be consumed with just surviving. Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are committed to being a part of positive change, one light and one village at a time.
By Chris Meyers
General Manager | Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives