Mississippi linemen bring the power of light to rural Guatemala - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi linemen bring the power of light to rural Guatemala

A team of power crews from Mississippi recently took a 2 week trip to Guatemala, not on vacation, but to help supply power to a region in need.

"I think we ended up connecting 13, 14 new accounts in the mountains that had never had electricity before," said Jason Holder, a linemen with Dixie Electric Power Association.

This team was faced with working with outdated equipment, and a power grid many decades behind current technology. They worked with local crews, with a goal of increasing efficiency and improving safety of those working with this system, day in and day out.

"They just didn't have the skills that we had. That was one of the reasons that we went down there was to show that how to do things safe and be more productive in their jobs," explained Johnny Finnan, a serviceman with Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association.

While the Mississippi group only consisted of 12 members, they quickly found their numbers grew through the support of the locals in Guatemala.

"There were people that would show up from everywhere. The kids, 9, 10, 11 year old kids that show up, and they were ready to tote tools. Ready to coil wire. I mean, whatever necessary that we had to do," said Holder.

The team worked ten hour days for two week. It was hard work, but worth the outcome.

"When we turned the lights on, she was standing there when we plugged the meter in, ready to flip the switch," said James Arender Jr., a construction working foreman with Southern Pine Electric Power Association.

"The glow in their eyes, all 4 sons and her, as they turned the lights on, was just amazing."

This trip was more than just about electricity for this team of Mississippians. In an effort to leave their positive mark, they visited a school with donations in hand.

"We went and bought books, coloring books, colors, books that go from 1st grade all the way up to 6th grade. And when we brought them and started opening them, the young ones were so proud to get anything that they could learn with," said Arender.

And would they return again? They all said a resounding 'Yes!'.

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