Alone in the world

Having a family is a big responsibility and most adults sometimes find themselves overwhelmed by it. But they could learn a thing or two from one 11-year-old from Colombia.

Juan Pablo and his three little brothers don't know anything about their father who was never around. And as if that wasn't bad enough, one day their mother left too and never came back. The children waited at home but she didn't reappear.

Spanish speakers can watch a local news report about the children here:

Stop for a moment and just imagine yourself at age 11 facing such a situation. It's hard to picture, and yet this little guy found hidden stores of strength and talent — Juan Pablo took charge. He kept them all going to school, and every day after school he would go out into the streets of Bogotá and beg for food for his brothers. Some days were worse than others, and when food got scarce he'd search through the trash for scraps.

He fed his family, cared for them, and kept them safe and healthy with a sense of responsibility that would boggle the mind and break the heart of most adults.

Juan and his brothers were getting by, but one night a neighbor heard cries coming from the house and alerted the police.

When officers arrived they simply couldn't believe it. Against all odds the children were perfectly all right. Their brother was raising them and he was doing it well.

No one could figure out exactly how long they'd been alone, but Juan Pablo deserves credit for his outstanding courage and sense of familial loyalty. Neither parent was found, so authorities took the children into custody. Hopefully Juan can go back to being a kid again.

Juan Pablo is a hero in the community, having demonstrated a maturity seldom seen in such young children. What he did isn't even easy for adults. Let's hope he's appreciated and taken care of from now on. He and his little brothers deserve it!