Carolyn and I did not think we were going to be able to visit the boy’s home. We spent so much time with the girls that it was getting dark and we thought we were headed back to the hotel.
We had already met a number of the young men at the dessert for the visitors, where the young journalist we met, Yesid David, spoke to the assembled group. After telling his story and expressing his appreciation for Casa Roca, he made a quiet plea to us—“Please come to see the boys home.”
So we decided to make one more stop and were glad we did.
Our guide was the son of the house parents, and his pride was very evident. In American parlance he was “house proud.” He took us to his family quarters, the study room they created from the garage, and then to the boy’s bedrooms on the second and third floors. The third floor rooms had an exquisite view of the flickering lights of the town.
|The boys are proud of their house and keep it spotless like this all the time. Amazing!|
|They wanted us to see the “happy room” containing
bicycles & anything else that puts a boy on wheels.
The parade continued outdoors to the back garden, where the boys were determined that we should see the “happy room.” Once we saw the contents of that room, no one need to explain to us why it was called the happy room. The room was stocked with bikes, athletic equipment, and toys.
But the best was saved for last. Our young guide took us to the great room where many of the boys were watching television. As we made our way to the great room, our guide turned to me and said: “I want you to meet Barak Obama.”
Initially I thought we were having a translation problem, but I turned the corner and there sat Barak Obama. Not Barak Obama, President of the United States, but Barak Obama of Bogotá. This Barak Obama was a 12-year-old boy from the Caribbean coast of Columbia who was sitting in a wheelchair. It was easy to see why—his legs were severely bent. But there he sat with a marvelous smile beaming from his dark face. He was always smiling we were told. His many brothers were clustered around as if forming a protective barrier. Our guide explained that Barak had undergone many surgeries, and that the latest would allow him to walk once he healed.
I was a bit perplexed. All the bedrooms were upstairs and there was no elevator. How did Barak get to his bedroom each night? Answer: his brothers carried him up and down the stairs on their backs. These young men, who had come from appallingly difficult circumstances, had learned how to love their neighbors as themselves. It is one thing to read this in the Bible; it is another to see it lived out in the lives of Barak Obama of Bogotá and the brothers of Casa Roca.