Richmond author Stacy Hawkins Adams promotes literacy abroad during a trip to Kenya

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-06 17:36:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In a heartfelt endeavor to promote literacy and make a positive difference in the lives of children half a world away, Richmond author Stacy Hawkins Adams recently embarked on a transformative journey to Kenya.

The accomplished author and former journalist, alongside a team of fellow authors, librarians, and educators, ventured to rural villages in Kenya to support a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing literacy among young learners.

Adams described her recent trip to Kenya as “inspiring, spiritual, connecting, gratitude-inducing, beautiful, and centering."

This nine-day expedition saw Adams collaborating with New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander and 19 others, to host reading and writing workshops for children and teachers in Kenya.

"What I hope we left them with is the sense that people beyond their village care about them, number one. I think they saw that and felt that," Adams said reflecting on the trip. "Then I hope that they understand that words can connect us, and books and literacy can help you travel the world if you understand how to read and write."

The group of American authors joined forces to support the nonprofit organization Kenya Connect.

Kenya Connect serves 63 schools in the remote countryside of Kenya.

Using bookmobiles, Kenya Connect delivers new reading materials every two weeks to residents in mountainous areas.

Adams has also contributed to Kenya Connect's fundraising efforts, raising $1,000 in donations when she returned to the US. As a token of appreciation, one of her own book covers, "Water Colored Pearls," will be featured on a “literary staircase” at Kenya Connect.

For Adams, the journey was both humbling and transformative. It challenged her to confront her own fears, from boarding a small plane in Nairobi for a safari adventure to sleeping alone in a tent while wild animals roamed nearby.

"I was afraid because there's an elephant out here, but they were gentle. I could hear them eating, hear the hippos singing at 5 a.m.," said Adams. “If we hadn't gotten on that plane, would we have experienced that beauty?"

Ultimately, Adams believes that while their mission was to give to the children and families in Kenya, she gained invaluable life lessons that will remain etched in her spirit forever.

"I think I learned that sometimes beautiful experiences require you to do things alone and to appreciate the beauty of that moment. Sometimes you have to push through the fear to get to the beauty," she said.

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