While it’s sometimes difficult for those in the United States to imagine, about 1 billion people in our world live without access to electricity. This number includes 65 homes in the village of Sillab, Guatemala.
That’s where TCEC lineman Kyle Weber will travel for three weeks starting August 24. Before he gets there with the team of 20 people from Oklahoma and Colorado electric cooperatives, the villagers will have hand dug and pre-set 60 poles.
Because of the hilly, mountainous terrain in the area, much of the work Kyle and the crew perform will be more physical than their usual work at home. Bucket trucks and other large equipment we often use in the Panhandle simply aren’t accessible or available to the village. Villagers will also help the international team during the project, helping pull wire and other tasks that require extra hands.
While TCEC focuses on supporting its local communities, TCEC CEO Zac Perkins felt being part of a larger effort speaks to the value of the cooperative difference, which transcends borders. The international effort ties closely to the universal cooperative principles of Concern for Community and Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Perkins and the leadership team encouraged qualified employees to apply for the opportunity and Kyle volunteered. He was selected from a large pool of applicants to go and his heart is truly in the project.
“My wife was all for this opportunity,” Kyle said. “She was one of the first people I talked to about going. She’s really supportive. I have a five-year-old daughter that keeps asking if I’m going on a storm and I have a three-year-old boy that is too young to understand. I think when I get back they’ll be able to understand what I was doing when I show them the photos from the trip.”
“I’m excited,” he said. “One of my goals is to use this as a platform to encourage other people to do this. To say, ‘Hey, I can do this. I can change lives and in the midst of it all maybe my life will be changed too.’”
TCEC will share Kyle’s journey on its website and social media channels throughout the trip. If you’d like to support the village Kyle is going to, the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation is a 501(c)3 affiliated with the project. They are taking donations toward water filters for underprivileged families in the village. Each filter costs $35 and any amount helps. You can visit or make a check payable to “Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation” and mail to PO Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154. Write “Water Filters” on the memo line.