Founder's Reflection
A Journey of Listening and Learning

Lindsey Pluimer, Founder & CEO
Published on the 8th of June, 2022
My recent trip to Africa was over two years in the making. So when I finally landed in Nairobi, you can bet I gave my Kenya program team the biggest hug - a hug filled with deep gratitude and admiration for them and all the amazing work happening on the ground, despite the challenges over the last two years during a global pandemic.

While in Kenya, my team and I were able to visit 9 of our 37 partner sites, all of which were communities I had never visited before. It was a busy itinerary indeed, but it was a chance for me to really listen to our community partners and hear the challenges they face, as well as how our water and agriculture projects have profoundly impacted their communities.

Across the board, nearly every community, especially the more rural ones, voiced how climate change, like drought and unpredictable weather patterns, have created extreme hardships for them. Women from two in-progress water project sites shared how their day is consumed by sourcing water - spending hours and long, tiresome walks for water. I personally saw these water sources - they were contaminated, unsafe for consumption, and looked as though they would dry up in a matter of time. These two communities also shared how many people have lost cattle to the harsh drought conditions, meaning a loss of income for them and their families.

Water to them literally means everything - time, health, income and opportunity.
It was abundantly clear that we can’t solve major problems like poverty, gender bias, illiteracy and so forth without starting with access to clean water. It reminded me again of the power and importance of our work.

We then visited seven partner sites that have already received water and agriculture projects from us. I heard from women and men how access to water has transformed their lives in every sense. Again, more women shared how relieved they are to have a consistent, close, and safe water source for their families. For example, Katherine shared, “My children are able to go to school now because of the clean water”. Her friend, Nooruasoi also told me, “Before, we dealt with health issues like typhoid and other waterborne diseases, but now they are not here.”
I saw firsthand how access to water has not only direct time and health impacts, but also cultural impacts. One rural community with a deep rooted pastoralist history, shared how they are shifting from a sole focus on raising cattle and are now focusing on agriculture, including small scale outdoor farming, bee apiary harvesting. They are even practicing regenerative farming (protecting the health of the soil)! I could go on and on about each different partner site, but overall, it was inspiring to see and hear how hopeful and resilient our community partners are now that they have access to clean water and sustainable agriculture practices.

Lastly, another purpose of my trip was to be on the ground as we roll out our new
Shared Investment Transformation Model. This model is a way for us to deepen our approach and ensure sustainable income-generating water and agricultural projects while helping our community partners scale on their own through additional revenue generating projects. I’m excited to see how this model will help us and our community partners build capacity and scale more efficiently.

Overall, my trip was well worth the wait. Listening and learning from our community partners and seeing firsthand our work and model in action are staunch reminders of how critical these solutions really are. I left Kenya knowing there is a lot of work to be done, but inspired by the transformation and resilience of the communities we work alongside. I look forward to sharing their stories in more detail with you all, hopefully leaving you inspired to continue to take action with us and ensure all people have access to clean water and sustainable food sources.

Because of you, nearly 100,000 lives have been impacted from our programming. Thank YOU for making this work possible.