Special to Fayette Newspapers
Linemen from Coweta Fayette EMC left Sunday, April 8, headed to Bolivia as part of a group of linemen representing five EMC’s in Georgia. Right of Way Supervisor Richard Davis and Journeyman Linemen Jeremy Brown will be joining 12 others from Carroll EMC, Flint Energies, Jackson EMC and Cobb EMC in San Isidro and Murmutani, Bolivia. The volunteers will work 14 days on an international electrification project. San Isidro is part of the Cochabamba department (state) located in the central part of Bolivia. It is estimated that 285,000 inhabitants live without access to electricity and about 60 percent live below the poverty level.
“All the work here will be done on hooks and all the wire strung by hand,” Davis said. “There will be also be a language barrier we haven’t encountered on the other trips.”
The native language is Quechua, however many can speak Spanish as well. The population works mostly in agriculture. The area is considered the “grain basket” of Bolivia, and they raise cattle, hunt and fish. San Isidro and Murmutani, the communities the crews will be assisting, are located side by side and have been waiting years for access to electricity.
Supporting this region and expanding their electrical network could mean a major improvement in the quality of life for local families. When this portion of the project is complete, 40 families will be connected to the grid.
The success of the project will be due to the volunteers and sponsoring cooperatives of the Take Aim at Progress sporting clay event. The money raised during the annual competition supports the NRECA International Foundation. This year’s Take Aim at Progress event will be held on April 27.
NRECA International has been working with developing countries since 1962. More than 300 electric cooperatives support the work through monetary contributions, material donation, and sending hundreds of co-op linemen and employees abroad as volunteers.
“It’s very humbling,” Davis said. “This will be my third international project. We are a very spoiled nation. The people we encounter on these trips are just so gracious. It’s hard being that far away from family, but it’s worth it.”
Why is it important to CFEMC to send crews to develop electricity abroad?
“We have the means,” said Davis. Cooperatives are “all about relationships and people,” he said. “The Bolivian government has been promising them electricity for 20 years. CFEMC aims to help deliver on that promise.”
Coweta Fayette EMC is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to over 80,000 consumers in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Fulton, Clayton, Meriwether, Spalding and Troup counties.