Scott Willett from the Indiana Rural Electric recently spoke to the Kiwanis Club at their weekly dinner/meeting at The Kitchen on The Square in Scottsburg about his trip to Guatamala as part of Project Indiana. Pictured are Scott Willett, Kiwanian Lee Anna Willett (SCSD2 Corporate Member) and Kiwanian Darryl Smith. Beginning in 2012, the international year of the Cooperative, two teams of Indiana linemen spent a month electrifying three villages in Guatemala. Lives were changed both here and there. In the 1930’s, Cooperatives brought electricity to rural Indiana forever improving the quality of life for Hoosiers. In 2012, Indiana’s electric cooperatives began paying it forward internationally by providing electricity to three remote Guatemalan villages. In 2015, the vision grew into Project Indiana and sustainable change–moving beyond electrifying villages, to making them a better place to live and enhancing the community — just as happened 80 years ago when electricity first came to rural Indiana. In 2015 the village of Sepamac received electricity. In 2017 the cooperatives traveled to a remote village called El Zapotillo to provide the villagers electricity. The goal of Project Indiana is to help rural Guatemala advance as we did in rural Indiana by adopting villages, bring them power and support them as they form electric cooperatives that enable them to enjoy a better way of life. El Zapotillo is in Cuilco, the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala. Approximately 300 villagers live in sixty homes in the mountains at an elevation of about 10,000 feet. El Zapotillo has a church, a school and a clinic. The villagers worked alongside the Indiana Rural Electric Cooperative volunteers. The increased elevation really stretched the team of sixteen linemen. All of the work was done by hand, setting fifty-two poles, stretching four miles of primary line, twenty-seven miles of secondary line, setting thirty-six anchors and hooking up six transformers. The village was in a very remote location with steep access roads. The population of the village is Spanish speaking and education ends at the sixth grade. The girls marry and start families at a very young age. The villagers conduct subsistence farming and cut timber and lumber for commercial sales. This is the third trip to Guatemala. Each trip lasts for two weeks and sixteen linemen volunteer. Scott discussed the satisfaction the team gets from working with the villagers in these remote, rural villages and commented on how appreciative the villagers are for the assistance and how hard they work to help the crews. With support from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International Foundation and the Guatemalan government, Indiana’s electric cooperatives are adopting a region in Guatemala to bring the tools and resources the Guatemalans need to do what they’re capable of doing, including forming a cooperative and improving education, nutrition, water, and health care. If you’re interested in staying up to date on Project Indiana as the program grows and continues to impact more lives, sign up on the Project Indiana website, www.projectindiana.org. The Kiwanis members thanked Scott for his presentation and applauded the work he and the cooperatives are doing to improve the quality of life in Guatemala.