GUATEMALA - You may know the expression "what you see from the outside may not be what you get on the inside." Never has that been more true than what I witnessed at a Guatemalan Community Center. Outside people were celebrating the country's independence. Inside, one girl was in a fight for her life.
One by one they arrive on this day. Some like Jose crawl. Others are carried.
Inside this community center, what brings them together is what breaks so many of them apart: disability. Amy Deyoung knows sometimes it takes a little convincing.
It's a land where need is great. Where wheelchairs are more expensive than some homes.
Forty people finally find mobility. But a little more than two hours into the morning, everything stopped.
At six years old, Jessica weighs just sixteen pounds. She lives--barely--on a diet of tortillas and coffee. It's all her family can afford. Her mom is a widow with six children. Cerebral palsy that threatens her mobility. But malnutrition threatens her life.
One man wants to fix both problems. Eleven years ago Dick Rutgers went to Guatemala on a wheelchair distribution and never left. But this day just one person has his full attention. Rutgers said he's watched 10 kids die in his arms this year alone. He couldn't get them to help in time. For this one hurting kid, Rutgers could make a difference.
After talking with Jessica's mother, he took her in his pickup to a nearby hospital to try to save her life.
Now Rutgers reports Jessica's healthy. Her family is getting help with nutritious food. He could have stopped there. But when he took her home, he saw Jessica's house. He called it one of the worst he'd ever seen. With help from some of his friends, Rutgers is building her family a new home.
Rutgers says he could have walked past Jessica that day. He could have given her just a wheelchair. Instead this starving child went from famine to food --- homeless to hopeful --- and (a family once shattered by a string of bad luck now can share a smile. This starving child got her life back.
Rutgers called Jessica's new home unique for her village. It has cement floors. Everyone else lives on dirt. He plans to return in a couple weeks to finish the home.