“Not even the monkeys will live here,” the local guide informed the volunteers. It’s too dry.
After long days in the jungle, scrambling up mountainsides and trekking through creeks and ravines, even this caught the team off guard. Not even the monkeys.
The Watts of Love global travel teams must be prepared for anything. But anyone can tell you that these statements are always surprising. It’s eye opening to come face to face with the extreme living conditions found throughout the world.
This spring a global travel team adventured into the mountainous jungles of Guatemala, a Central American nation that borders the southern tip of Mexico. It was the group’s first venture into the incredibly beautiful country with a full volunteer team. Approximately 650 lights were distributed throughout the trip.
Due to the incredible support of Engie, a French energy company whose financial sponsorship made this trip possible, 16 global travel team members journeyed into remote jungle territories, including two Engie representatives who fully immersed themselves in the lamp distribution.
Guatemala’s beautiful environmental diversity stuns new visitors. It is home to a rich Mayan culture and historical remnants of the great Mayan temples still tower over the jungles.
Based in Zacapa, three hours away from the capitol, team members ventured out into the jungle with boxes of solar lights, including the latest model, developed in partnership with Molex. The new model is a lightweight compact light worn around the neck.
The team’s first journey out from their base camp took them to Del Rio, a shanty town located on the banks of a river, which is home to displaced people who receive no public or private aid. The families, whose homes are constructed of garbage remnants, were over joyed to have visitors – a rarity in this small village. The lights were an incredible gift and the families were ecstatic to learn about them and begin using them in their homes.
Moving out of Zacapa into a jungle base camp, the team took pick-up trucks into an extremely remote area to begin light distribution in Peten. This area is so far away from a water source that monkeys refuse to live there. Families must collect their own water and use it to farm corn. Villagers were so grateful to learn of the team’s arrival, gathering to welcome the team and greet them with small gifts of cocoa. In this Mayan village, the MP3 lights were distributed with pre-loaded health and hygiene information translated into the native language by Liberty University’s Department of Public Health. Liberty University representatives Gio Moralez and Beth O’Connell joined the team to conduct baseline surveys in hopes of measuring how the content will impact village health outcomes moving forward.
Continuing to work through the jungle, the team visited another Kekchi Mayan village where they distributed more MP3 lights and even conducted home visits to set up the lights themselves. The gift of time and the personal care the team took with the villagers made a significant impact.
Traveling into the steep jagged mountain areas of Chiquimula, the team climbed intense inclines to visit the Chorti Mayan people who are so remote they make their own clothing and struggle with issues of malnutrition. There is no source of lighting anywhere close and the gift of the solar lights will powerfully affect their daily lives.
To get involved or for more information about volunteering with a Watts of Love global travel team, please contact info@WattsofLove.org
ENGIE PROVIDES INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE FOR EMPLOYEES, HELPS BRING POWER AND LIGHT TO THE PEOPLE OF GUATEMALA.
Using this trip to bolster employee engagement, French energy company Engie provided two employees with a full immersion experience, sending them to Guatemala to work alongside Watts of Love. Our project to Guatemala was a stellar showing of Engie’s faithful commitment to sustainable global energy solutions. The company is a member of the United Nations Global Compact.
Going to Guatemala to help people less fortunate than me has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Scott Etheridge, Regional Sales - ERCOT. “I have become a champion for the Watts of Love mission and plan to go on several more trips.” Regional salesperson Scott Etheridge was gifted this trip through an incentive program for employees.
Engie marketing manager Thomas Chung also got an incredible hands-on view of how the teams impact communities and lives. "In a short 10 days in Guatemala, it was a life changing experience. Water and electricity are two essentials that we city dwellers will never be able to live without but seeing the local Guatemalan people as happy as ever have put my life in perspective. Our first world problems are minuscule compared to their problem that they face. Our first world problems are minuscule compared to their problem that they face with a shortage of water and power alone.
Etheridge and Chung provided invaluable hands-on support. We can’t wait to see Engie employees again on future trips and helping with us with our mission to bring power and light to those that live in darkness after the sun goes down!
For more information on Engie and their mission: www.engie.com
OUR SINCERE THANKS TO ENGIE FOR HELPING US BRING POWER, LIGHT AND LOVE TO THE PEOPLE OF GUATEMALA.
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