I’m often asked what drew me to journalism. There isn’t one simple answer. There are lots of reasons – but one of them is that it means I get to meet some truly amazing people – people who I would never meet if I wasn’t a journalist. Sometimes they are famous people, sometimes they are ordinary people like you and me. But all of them have a fascinating story (or more) to tell.
Since I moved to Sydney I’ve been fortunate to contribute to an ABC television program called One Plus One. One of my interviews has gone to air and a few others are in the mysterious space that is an edit suite.
Peter Chwal is a man from Perth – a father of three, husband to one and an Australian Federal Police officer to the rest of us. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with a liver disease which stopped it functioning properly. For a year and a half he had tubes and bags attached to him draining fluid. I’m so pleased to say he doesn’t have to live with those ‘additional appendages’ anymore because he is the successful recipient of a new liver. You can see my interview with Peter here.
THE TWITTER CONNECTION
Peter’s a pretty amazing guy with such a positive and never give up attitude. It’s hard not to be inspired by him. I ‘found’ Peter on Twitter. I’d been searching for someone to interview during a future trip home to Perth and one night I was checking my Twitter feed (something I do about 10 times a day) and someone I follow had retweeted @PetersLiver. I was intrigued and started ‘Twitter stalking’ Peter.
It’s hard to say exactly what caught my eye. I guess in a small way I appreciated his frustration. I could never understand it. I haven’t had to wait for an organ. I’d never met anyone else who was in that same predicament. But immediately I wondered what that feeling would be like, and I assumed other people might have that same thought.
During the next few days Peter and I chatted on Twitter and finally on the phone. He agreed to let me interview him. I am always amazed by people who are so open and willing to share part of their life with thousands – or more – unknown names and faces. We met for a coffee a few days out from our interview for One Plus One. Sitting before me was a man whose life literally depended on someone else. Someone he would never meet and never get to thank. He had no control over whether he would even get a new liver and so there was no certainty for his future. Peter was a man who couldn’t plan much further than a day ahead. He could never be more than a few hours out of Perth in case he ‘got the call’ to say he would be receiving a new liver. Peter couldn’t shower properly, he couldn’t swim in a pool or at the beach, he couldn’t live the life (we so often take for granted) to its full potential. But what Peter was doing was living the life he had, at that moment, with all those restrictions, to his 100%. I knew his story would make a fascinating interview.
People are often interested to know where journalists get their stories and how they know a story is a story. In this case I have social media to thank. The second point to that question is an interesting one. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the story and make it accessible and simple to understand. Sometimes the story just jumps off the page (or screen) at you. If it interests me – then that’s the first step. Peter’s story moved me, and I hope it moved you after watching it. What is shown is often only an edited down version (due to time restraints). I get to see and hear so much more than what the rest of the world will see. I wish I could share all my encounters with Peter. A few days after filming our interview, Peter’s life was changed when he received a new liver. He’s in recovery now and looking forward to a full life with his family. It’s so wonderful to be a part of a story with a happy outcome. So often in my job the stories are sad.
I recently met another inspiring and amazing man for an interview for One Plus One. This week I interviewed John Wood. John used to work for Microsoft and left his high paying, high profile role with the company to start Room to Read. RtR builds libraries (15000 of them and counting) and schools (1650 with many more to come) in some of the world’s poorest nations. I’ve been following John’s story for a few years and when I found out he was coming to Sydney I jumped at the chance to interview him.
John is one of those people who captures your mind and doesn’t let go – even after he’s left the room. His enthusiasm for what he does is contagious. I’m really looking forward to my interview with him going to air. I can’t wait for the response it will get from people all over Australia.
I’m reluctant to say too much about John before the interview goes to air – so you’ll just have to keep an eye on One Plus One for our chat. After that I’ll update this post about meeting John Wood.
I’m now on the lookout for more interesting people to meet. I feel very lucky that I get to spend time with some truly inspiring people. If you know someone who has an interesting story to tell, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can follow Peter’s journey on Twitter @PetersLiver and you can learn more about John Wood @JohnWoodRTR and my Twitter account is @rachelPupazzoni
Thanks for stopping by!