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REC linemen help bring electricity to residents of small village in Bolivia

LAPHIA, BOLIVIA – Two Roanoke Electric Co-op linemen, Jamie Elliot and Russell (“Russ”) Flythe, have joined an elite team of 13 volunteers, representing seven North Carolina electric cooperatives, to bring first-time electricity to the tiny rural village of Laphía, Bolivia.

Jamie Elliot (left photo) and Russell (“Russ”) Flythe (right photo) are volunteers representing Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Bolivia. Contributed Photos

The mission, known as the “Brighter World Initiative,” is facilitated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s international affiliate, NRECA International.

“We are proud of Jamie and Russ for their willingness to leave their homes to work long hours in difficult conditions in order to give the miracle of electricity to this village in Bolivia,” said Roanoke Electric Co-op President and CEO Curtis Wynn. “Their service speaks to their dedication to helping others and to the value of the cooperative difference, and reinforces one of our core principles, ‘Concern for Community.’ We are grateful for the opportunity to show the cooperative spirit, not only at home but also abroad.”

Elliot, Flythe and the other 11 linemen volunteers are building approximately five miles of distribution line that will power about 70 homes and structures, including a school. The village’s remote location and mountainous geography prohibits bringing in construction trucks and pole-driving equipment, so the work must be done by hand.

Laphía’s 120 residents have never had access to electricity, and most work as farmers. They must use kerosene lights, candles and battery-powered lanterns to see after sundown.