Four missing indigenous children survive 40 days in Colombian jungle

Radios in the Colombian jungle came alive with the news that four indigenous Huitoto children, missing for 40 days, had been found alive. The children, aged 13, nine, four, and one, survived a plane crash on May 1 that killed their mother. Stranded in an area filled with snakes, jaguars, and mosquitos, the children relied on their survival skills and knowledge of the jungle to stay alive.

The Mucutuy family, members of the Huitoto people, were well-prepared for such an ordeal. Their grandfather, Fidencio Valencia, told reporters that the eldest children, Lesly and Soleiny, were well acquainted with the jungle. Their aunt, Damarys Mucutuy, said the family often played a “survival game” together, teaching the children essential skills for living in the jungle.

After the crash, Lesly built makeshift shelters from branches held together with her hair ties. She also recovered Fariña, a type of flour, from the wreckage of the Cessna 206 plane they had been travelling in. The children survived on the flour until it ran out and then they ate seeds, according to Edwin Paki, one of the indigenous leaders who took part in the search effort.

Astrid Cáceres, head of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, said the timing of their ordeal meant the “the jungle was in harvest” and they could eat fruit that was in bloom. However, the children still faced significant challenges surviving in the inhospitable environment. Indigenous expert Alex Rufino told BBC Mundo that the children were in “a very dark, very dense jungle, where the largest trees in the region are”. He also warned that while there are leaves with which the children could purify water, “others are poisonous”.

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Despite the challenges, the children managed to survive, evading predators and armed groups in the jungle. Colombian President Gustavo Petro praised the children’s relationship with the environment, saying, “They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia.”

Indigenous expert Rufino attributed their survival to their “spiritual connection with nature,” saying, “The jungle is not only green, but there are ancient energies with which the populations relate, learn and help each other.” He added, “The same mother, who became a spirit after the accident, protected them, and only now is she going to start resting.”

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Lilly Larkin

Lilly is a writer with a diverse international background, having lived in various countries including Thailand. Her unique experiences provide valuable insights and culturally sensitive perspectives in her news reporting. When not writing, Lilly enjoys exploring local art scenes, volunteering for community projects, and connecting with people from different cultures.

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