In the realm of American sports, Lindsey Pluimer, a former All-American basketball player at UCLA, stands as an icon, not just for her prowess on the court but her dedication to fostering humanitarian changes on a global scale. After playing professional basketball, Pluimer's life journey pivoted dramatically during a transformative visit to South Africa. Her dreams of shooting hoops transitioned into a vision of addressing human rights disparities, igniting her drive to provide life's fundamental needs to those left wanting.
A Promise Made, A Journey Undertaken
In 2009, as a student at UCLA, Pluimer found herself profoundly impacted by discussions on global inequality. She set a goal to not only personally witness the realities of Africa but to contribute significantly to diminishing its entrenched inequalities.
With a the determination and spirit that made her a professional athlete, Pluimer undertook her first journey to South Africa 12 years ago. There, she was met with harsh realities of deprivation and the plight of young women that brought the magnitude of inequality into sharp focus. Yet, the resilience, spirit, and unyielding hope of the people left an indelible mark on her soul, pivoting her life's mission and redefining her purpose.
The Transition: From Shooting Hoops to Quenching Thirsts
The powerful impressions of her South African journey propelled Pluimer into action. Retiring from her professional basketball career, she channeled her tenacity and focus into a new game - the humanitarian field. In 2011, she founded the 'With My Own 2 Hands Foundation' (WMO2H), anchored on a commitment to securing the basic human rights of water, food, and education for women and children in East Africa.
A Ripple Effect: The Impact of WMO2H
WMO2H began its journey with a mission to ensure clean water access. Tirelessly striving to eradicate poverty and gender inequities, the foundation works towards removing the financial and time burden linked to obtaining clean water. A significant step in this direction was a Rotary Global Grant they received with the help of Irvine Rotary, to undertake a substantial water project. This grant led to the creation of more community-owned and led water projects, including rainwater harvesting, boreholes, and spring protection. Alongside these efforts, WMO2H also provided valuable training on water treatment and hygiene practices.
But WMO2H didn't stop there. With water, there's the ability to grow food so the foundation extended its reach to food security, offering training on sustainable agricultural practices, encompassing regenerative farming, drip irrigation, mixed crop and livestock farming. They have also helped communities establish apiaries, greenhouses, and composting programs, marking a comprehensive, sustainable approach to development.
WMO2H works closely with communities, identifying their unique needs and developing bespoke solutions. An integral part of their mission is capacity building and empowerment, ensuring communities can sustain their projects and flourish independently.
Over time, WMO2H has upheld its promise and more. It has touched more than 50 communities in East Africa with more than 80 projects revolving around clean water and sustainable agriculture. The foundation has kindled profound change, impacting over 110,000 women's lives by offering sustainable, life-changing solutions to everyday struggles.
In Pluimer's tale, we find an undying commitment and the transformative power of a single individual's determination. Her journey, from basketball courts to the dusty fields of Africa, stands as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and its ability of a single person to initiate profound change. If you'd like to help, you can donate here.