Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Senior launches textbook fund for African school children

For GW senior Emily Adams, the value of a textbook extends far beyond its sticker price.

After spending a month teaching in a primary school in Kenya and seeing firsthand the dire need for textbooks and other learning materials in African classrooms, Adams and a close friend from home, Emily Stuhr, decided to pitch in to improve education for the students.

“In a classroom of 50 kids, there might be three books to share, which made teaching and learning impossible,” Adams said. “We wanted to do something. Raising money for textbooks is one concrete way we can make sure the kids have an easier time getting through primary schools.”

Adams, an international affairs major concentrating in development and economics, said she has always been interested in going abroad. Throughout high school and college, Adams studied the countries and people of sub-Saharan Africa.

A spur-of-the-moment phone call to Stuhr led the two friends on a search for a volunteer program that would allow them to teach students in the region.

Adams and Stuhr traveled to the town of Saikeri in the Maasailand region of Kenya and spent a month teaching at a primary school with International Volunteer Headquarters.

Teaching in Saikeri was an experience that opened Adams’ eyes to the lack of resources available to the students. Writing entire paragraphs of social studies textbooks on the board was not a practical or effective way to teach the students, Adams said, adding that she felt she had to give students educational opportunities beyond primary school.

“There are a lot of different ways we look at development,” Adams said. “Education is one of the biggest things that we can promote to give people opportunities.”

Upon returning home, Adams and Stuhr began a fundraising campaign to provide the students they had taught with textbooks and other classroom supplies. When they traveled back to Kenya this summer, they brought more than $1,200 with them.

The money was enough to supply the school with 176 new textbooks, 1,040 workbooks and other classroom items.

Adams and Stuhr created a nonprofit organization named Amu Mashal, a Maasai saying that means “Because I am not weak.” The phrase is often repeated by Maasai women to express their own strength and give a sense of female empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated culture.

“It serves as a reminder for us,” Adams said, adding that she and Stuhr had the phrase tattooed on their feet. “We wanted to focus on the fact that just because we’re two people doesn’t mean we can’t do much.”

To extend the fundraising campaign to a wider audience, the two created a website – – and began to encourage more people to get involved.

The organization is coming close to its goal of providing one textbook for every two or three students. In addition to books, the organization is raising funds to build secure bookshelves in the school’s classrooms, a project that will cost approximately $600 for six cabinets.

Adams said the project can remind people of the difference everyone can make in the world.

“The average textbook costs about $3.25. That’s like skipping Starbucks for the day,” she said. “It’s a small but concrete thing we can do to help.”

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet