(Paulding, Ohio) Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op (PPEC) Linemen John McMaster and Zak Kauser, along with fifteen other line workers from all over Ohio came together in March to be part of Project Ohio. Project Ohio is a statewide effort led by Ohio Electric Cooperatives to electrify rural parts of Guatemala.
The trip ran from March 4-22 with an inauguration celebration held in the villages of Las Tortugas and San Jorge on March 20. Even through the brutal high 90s heat and language barrier, the Ohio crew helped village residents gain a new outlook on the things by providing electricity for the very first time in their lives.
This is PPEC lineman John McMaster’s second time making the journey. “Being part of Project Ohio means bringing opportunities to people who didn’t have them before. The teachers in the schools will now have a laptop and projectors to open opportunities in education. This can open doors to their imagination beyond what they see and do in village life just because they now have electricity,” stated McMaster.
Nearly 150 homes were given electricity thanks to the seventeen linemen and Ohio Electric Cooperative staff members. This was PPEC lineman Zak Kauser’s first time participating, “My overall experience on the Project Ohio trip was great. I got to see firsthand how things are done differently in a developing country. Being able to go help a less fortunate area gives you a better understanding of life, and its heartwarming knowing you helped make their life easier.”
Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with more than 75 percent Guatemalans living below the poverty line. CEO and President George Carter stated this is a life changing ordeal for those involved. “This project and all the International Projects, change lives, they don’t just improve conditions they actually change lives. Just like the rural electrification projects in this county 80 years ago changed lives. This wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices of dedicated professionals like John and Zak.”
During the mission, every home received a water filtration system and a single burner cooktop. Every child in the village received a new pair of shoes. The school in Las Tortugas received a laptop computer, overhead projector and an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner. The school in San Jorge received a laptop computer, overhead projector, an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner and a sound system. All these items were donated by Ohio Electric Cooperative employees. These tools, combined with the electrification project, will allow the schools to greatly improve their educational outreach.