“A real miracle” in Colombia: how did the four children survive in the jungle for 40 days?

“A real miracle” in Colombia: how did the four children survive in the jungle for 40 days?

2023-06-11 02:27:48

Cristin had a year in the middle of the Amazon jungle of Colombia. Rescued on Friday, this baby is a miracle. Alongside her siblings, she was found by army rescue workers after surviving 40 days without assistanceannounced Colombian President Gustavo Petro.

The lives of these young children changed on May 1, when they were plane crash victims on which they were. The three adults who accompanied them, including their mother, died instantly and the rescuers quickly identified their bodies. But in the middle of the jungle, Lesly (13), Soleiny (9), Tien Noriel (4) and Cristin (1) could not be found.

Their fate aroused the concern of an entire country. Survival kits had even been dropped by the Colombian army above the jungle on the weekend of May 20, as well as thousands of leaflets to tell them how to contact the emergency services.

“There are a whole bunch of aggressions that can kill slowly”

“It’s a real miracle, 40 days in the Amazon jungleit’s a great performance”, confirms Denis Tribaudeau, organizer of survival courses For almost 20 years. “After a few days, you are hungry, you become dehydrated. We must try to counter the onslaught of nature, fleas, mosquitoes. There are a whole bunch of attacks that can kill slowly, ”he deciphers.

Their young age was certainly an asset according to Robin Boclet-Weller, founder of the Compagnie des Aventuriers: “It’s quite impressive. But children appeal to their instincts and don’t spend their energy unnecessarily, unlike adults who teem with ideas in such circumstances”.

They were also found 5 km from the crash site, “which proves that they simply zigzagged to find resources without really going far “, notes the specialist. But it is above all their education that has allowed them to survive for such a long time.

Children helped by their knowledge of the jungle

The four children are from indigenous group Uitoto, an indigenous people settled in southeastern Colombia and northern Peru. “They live collectively in the jungle, they are people who are used to getting by,” continues Robin Boclet-Weller, also an anthropologist by training.

To feed themselves, they appealed to the traditional knowledge transmitted by their elders. “From a very young age, young people know how to differentiate between fruits and things not to touch and they have a broad visual knowledge of things that are dangerous. They know how to recognize what is edible from the age of 3-4 years,” he continues.

According to him, children from an urban background would probably not have survived under the same circumstances. “In particular, they had wrapped their feet in strips of fabric to avoid injuries, because it is often by the feet that one injures oneself in the jungle. The fact that they know this shows the knowledge they have,” underlines the specialist who has already lived several months in the jungle.

The role of the primordial elder

According to the children’s family, it was the 13-year-old big sister, Lesly, who was able to play a vital role in the survival of the youngest. “She usually always took care of her siblings when their mother was working. She gave them flour, cassava bread, fruits from the bush to eat,” said her grandmother.

Ivan Velasquez, Minister of Defence, confirmed the key role played by Lesly. “It is thanks to her, her value and her leadership, that the other three were able to survive, with her care, her knowledge of the jungle,” he said to pay tribute to her.

“A 13-year-old girl in the Amazon already has a lot of knowledge about the environment, abounds Robin Boclet-Weller. She managed to share this experience with the little ones, she must have been a huge moral support”. The anthropologist explains that this is based on “the great solidarity between the children” in indigenous peoples. They are “co-educators”.

Robin Boclet-Weller, however, remains impressed by the fact that the very young Cristin was able to survive. “A baby doesn’t have as many resources as an adult. We can survive three weeks with water and sugar. Beyond that, you need fat. A baby does not have these reservations. The children had to take care of her all the time”.

“They are out of danger”

After being found by the Colombian army emergency services, the children were immediately transferred by medical plane to Bogota. “They are weak. Let the doctors make their prognosis,” commented the Colombian president, without giving further details on their state of health.

The miraculous “are a little worried to see so many people around them, but they are recovering, they are talking a little”, commented later in the day the Minister of Defense Ivan Velasquez, at the end of a visit at their bedside with President Gustavo Petro. “They were dehydrated (…) But in general their condition is acceptable. They are out of danger,” he said.

Apart from “a few skin lesions and bites”, the children do not present “no pathology or any degraded health situation”, specified a military doctor. “They are in stable condition, examinations are in progress” and a renutrition protocol is administered to them, with psychological support. Their hospitalization is expected to last between two and three weeks.

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