No menu items!


HomeTopicsLatin AmericaStrength in the Colombian Jungle: Indigenous Children's Miraculous Survival Story

Strength in the Colombian Jungle: Indigenous Children’s Miraculous Survival Story

At 13 years old and with a “warrior” nature, Lesly kept her younger siblings safe, says the grandmother of the four indigenous children who were found alive Friday after surviving a plane crash and 40 days stranded in the Colombian Amazon.

“She always took care of them when their mother was working. She always gave them fariñita, casabito (flour and cassava bread), any fruit in the bush,” said Fatima Valencia, the mother of Magdalena Mucutuy, who died when the plane in which she was traveling with her children crashed on May 1.

We indigenous women “are very warrior-like”, emphasizes Valencia, who is waiting in a hotel in the city of Villavicencio (center) to see her grandchildren.

The children were located this afternoon in the middle of the jungle and transported by helicopter to San José del Guaviare, the nearest municipality. By midnight an Air Force ambulance plane was taking them to Bogota.

“I just want to see them, touch them,” adds Fidencio Valencia, the children’s grandfather, also in Villavicencio. Like little Lesly, her brothers Soleiny (9) and Tien Noriel (4) “are very “verracos” (skilled) to walk” in the jungle, said the 47-year-old Huitoto indigenous man in another interview.

Little Cristin, who turned one year old during the children’s amazing journey through the forest, also survived.

With sniffer dogs, helicopters and airplanes, a hundred military personnel and dozens of indigenous people found the bodies of the three adults who were traveling in the aircraft. The children, however, were not located.

From then on, a spectacular search operation was launched in the sky and on the ground, in which clues were found that at least one of them was still alive: scissors, a bottle, bitten fruits, improvised shelters with leaves. Indications that the children could be wandering among the dense vegetation inhabited by jaguars, pumas and poisonous snakes.

“We don’t let our guard down with our grandfather, with my brother, we pray every night,” says Fatima. They entrusted the fate of the children to the “spirits of tobacco and mambe”, a coca leaf preparation used by the natives in their rituals.

Faithful to the beliefs of the Huitoto people, they suspected that some supernatural force was preventing the rescue.

Yes it’s true

After the discovery, the grandparents thanked the hundred military and indigenous people who worked shoulder to shoulder in the search. “Also to mother earth who released them”, added Fatima.

Initially, the so-called “Operation Hope” followed the trail of the children in an area of some 323 square kilometers, equivalent to the entire province of Buenos Aires. Last week the Army managed to reduce the area to 20 square kilometers, but heavy rains that last up to 16 hours a day made the task difficult.

The country was excited on May 17 with the supposed rescue of the children, when President Gustavo Petro falsely announced it. The following day he retracted it and assured that he had been misinformed.

On this occasion, the president gave the news with images of the children in the middle of the jungle as proof of the rescue.

“Until I looked at the pictures of them (I said): yes it is true”, says Fatima relieved. In the images they look very thin and have no shoes. Doctors are waiting for their arrival at a military airport in Bogota to evaluate them.

However, Fatima and Fidencio ask to be the first to take care of them: “We have to blow on their bodies to give them strength and then we hand them over so that the western part can take a look at them”, says the grandmother.

In the future she hopes to have the “custody” of the children, after the death of her mother: “I can give them education, I can still (…) That is going to be my pride. My daughter is watching and she will give me spiritual encouragement, strength”, she assured.

Weekly Recap

Latest Articles