The Journey to Jessica

Jessica and her mother. Image by Scott Schaefer. Guatemala, 2010.

Jessica and her mother. Image by Scott Schaefer. Guatemala, 2010.

It's a journey unlike anything I've ever been apart of, and frankly, when I stepped off the plane I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I've always heard people tell me "be thankful for what you have," but it really doesn't hit home until you see the conditions some people are living in in the year 2010. Cardboard houses, no running water, electricity, or food for weeks. Here I sit complaining about the smallest of things and then quickly remember how much worse it could be.

My story this week really hit me hard. When I saw Jessica, it took me about ten seconds to realize she wasn't well. Soon thereafter Dick Rutgers approached her and her mother with a translator and it became very obvious that her issue was far more serious than just the fact she's immobile. 6 years old, 16 pounds, a diet of tortillas and coffee; that's it. Her mother is a widow with six children. This family was broken. They didn't have a voice, they weren't being heard and they had no resources to find help. But Dick Rutgers came along and saved her life.

I've had the true privilege of sharing the stories of several incredible people over the past few years, and I find it to be a tremendous responsibility to do every story justice that I get the chance to work on. This piece took me several days. For several reasons. When I sit back and look at all the elements that make up the story, all of them touched my heart. Dick Rutgers is absolutely incredible. A big guy with a big beard and a heart that's much bigger than everything just mentioned. Sitting in the edit bay I told my colleague Sarah Hill several times that I needed to take a walk around the building to gather my emotions because some of this video is simply not easy to watch.

I'm very proud of the piece we aired and I am proud of the people that are making this project a reality. There is such a great need for mobility and assistance not only in Guatemala, but in several countries worldwide. It breaks my heart to see kids not have any chance right from the start. It breaks my heart to see parents not have the means to provide for their families. And it breaks my heart to know that so many of us have never seen the problem, so we don't know how bad it really is. We are so lucky, and I have never been so grateful for all the opportunities I have received. I've never been the richest kid in town, I drive a '94 Buick LeSabre, but wow, my life has been so very good. I'm studying at the school of my dreams, I have a family that supports me in everything I do, I have some of the greatest friends in the world, and everyday I get to go to work and do something I love. I'm blessed. I really am.

"From those to whom much is given, much is expected." Yeah, that's true. I get it. Now let's get back to work.