After spending more than 40 years bringing electricity to thousands of people around the world, Myk Manon will soon be adjusting to life in America. Myk is retiring from a long career with NRECA International, and after living abroad in 11 countries for more than four decades, he is looking forward to retiring in Florida with Lupe, his wife and constant companion.
Prior to his retirement, Myk served as NRECA International’s country director in Haiti, and managed the USAID-funded Pilot Project for Sustainable Electricity Distribution. Over his four-decade career with NRECA International, he’s worked in Bolivia, Bangladesh, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Haiti.
Myk’s passion for helping people and his love for international work began with the Peace Corps 47 years ago. His career has afforded him a rewarding life, rich with the knowledge that he has brought positive change to countless lives. His unique style allows him to be a true member of many communities he’s lived in around the world. However, the meaningful moments came in different forms, each colorful in its own way.
Below is an excerpt of a few moments he shared with us. Thank you Myk, for your leadership, friendship and dedication to helping those in need.
What do all these years of work mean to you as you get ready to retire?
I’ve had a very rich and rewarding life. Through my work with NRECA I played a part in bringing the gift of electricity to the world’s less fortunate and enjoyed in seeing how their lives have changed.
What was the most direct correlation between access to electricity and improvement in quality of life you’ve witnessed?
Families having direct access to modern conveniences like refrigerators, radios, and TVs. Or electric lights that replaced kerosene lamps to read, or see someone’s face in a conversation. And, of course, cold beer.
Then there’s the expanded benefits to health clinics and hospitals that can operate under lights, refrigeration for vaccines and medicine. And the ability to create business opportunities using electricity.
The fact of having a simple light at the front of a house or a streetlight greatly improves the feeling of security. That in itself is an improvement in the quality of life.
What are you most proud of?
Finishing up at the end of day and with a feeling of doing good in the world. Some days are definitely better than others. But in the big scheme of things, it’s how lucky I have been to do what I have done.
Share a few meaningful moments you’ve had.
My son’s birth in Bolivia is number one. And I have had the honor to meet and converse with at least 20 presidents/dictators while working overseas. But a true meaningful moment is meeting an elderly woman almost 40 years ago in Nicaragua. Her home consisted of three thin walls and a curtain for the fourth, and she insisted that she needed electricity. She paid a $3 co-op membership fee with enough old coins from a knotted hanky that I just knew was half her life’s savings. I took the time to explain that when the lights come she would have to pay up to $5 a month. She nodded and grinned, but I knew she didn’t really understand. As her chickens were running around, I had an epiphany. I explained that at the beginning of every month, she should sell a chicken, put the money aside and use it to pay for her electricity. I left feeling very proud of my explanation. But in a few months the collection agent asked me why I authorized a chicken as payment for electricity! It was too much trouble for her to sell the chicken, so she simply handed it over as payment.
What was your favorite country to live in, and why?
Every country that my wife Lupe and I have lived in has given very special memorable moments. Some countries are much easier to have a less stressful life like the Philippines or the Dominican Republic, that doesn’t mean they were more exciting than say Southern Sudan or Nigeria.
You’ve lived outside of the US more years than you’ve lived in it – what are you most looking forward to now that you will be living in Florida?
More time with the grandkids, growing orchids, renovating our house, and shopping for food to cook at home!