On my first trip to the village almost 4 years ago, I brought with me all the lingering, uncomfortable feelings of guilt that I’d picked up from the media portrayal of “poor Africans.” These feelings dissipated as my relationship with the villagers shifted from one of pity to one of respect. Respect for the students —not so much very younger than I — who were pursuing a formal education against incredible odds; respect for the elders, who radiated an aura of peace and wisdom; respect for the wives, who seemed to always have smiles of their faces; and most of all, respect for the unbelievable determination I saw in each and every villager to develop their community. The contrast between my expectations and the reality I encountered was profound. I was deeply touched by their stories.
[excerpt from Jeremy Teicher’s personal diary]