By Chris T. Wilson
An Ojai native son seeking a way to do something positive in the world decided to join the Peace Corps and is currently in Senegal, Africa helping to bring clean water to villagers there.
For the whole story about Garrison Harward’s quest to install 52 water pumps in 52 weeks, you can visit his Internet blog 52pumps52weeks.wordpress.com/ or for the synopsis: read on.
Through a couple of e-mails and a brief Skype conversation, Harward relayed the basic details of his journey to Africa and the evolution of his volunteer projects there. Working alongside his Peace Corps partner, Marcie Todd, and with the help of natives and the organization, Water Charity, Harward is busy installing one pump per week in the Fatick Region of Senegal.
“Marcie and I both attended a rope pump training put on by Peace Corps volunteer David Campbell in February,” Harward said. “It was there that we first came up with the idea for the project and started looking for funding. We contacted Water Charity and they were immediately interested, based on their previous work with PCVs in Senegal. We spent about three months setting everything up and actually reworking a good portion of the rope pump system to make it more viable in a rural setting before we actually launched the project in late May. From then it’s been a constant learning process. We have had our fair share of trials and tribulations, spent multiple days reworking pumps, replacing broken materials, retraining our welders until now we finally seem to have a system that is both effective and sustainable. Luckily, we learned pretty quickly so it hasn’t been too difficult to backtrack and apply our newly learned lessons to older pumps to make sure that each one works as effectively as possible. Going forward we’re still improving the system and are working with USAID to possibly receive some additional support for training.”
Harward also notes that he is enjoying putting his youthful energy into a project that makes a difference.
“Part of me wants to explore a new culture, and test my limits,” he said. “Part of me just wants the adventure.”
Born and raised locally, Harward grew up in Meiners Oaks and attended elementary school there. He also studied at Matilija Junior High. At Nordhoff High School, he was the marching band drum major, and had theatrical performances in “Into the Woods” and “Oklahoma,” where he played the roles of Jack and Will Parker, respectively.
“Being away, truly away, from home has made me appreciate our small town more than ever,” Harward states. “It truly is an incredible place filled with wonderful, caring, giving people and I know that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for my upbringing and my love for community. The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. That’s not a saying here (Ojai), it’s fact, and I see now how lucky I was to grow up in a place that respected that fact and gave me so many opportunities to learn and grow. I am truly grateful.”
Harward arrived in Senegal in August 2010 and will complete his volunteer tour in October 2012.
“Two years seemed so daunting at first, but now that I’m over halfway done I see that it really isn’t enough time,” he notes. “I’m scrambling to start all my projects before it’s too late.”
Harward said that each pump he and his co-volunteers are installing in Senegal costs $100 and encouraged anyone who wants to donate to the project to do so. The project is fully funded by non-profit Appropriate Projects; to contribute, visit 52pumps52weeks.wordpress.com/contribute and click on the yellow button.