Miracle in the Jungle: Indigenous Children Rescued After 40 Days Rest in Bogota Military Hospital

2023-06-10 18:10:33

Exhausted, but ‘happy’: The four indigenous children, rescued after wandering 40 days in the Colombian jungle, were resting in a military hospital in Bogota on Saturday, as the country continued to rejoice in this ‘miracle’.

• Read also: The four children lost in the jungle for 40 days found alive in Colombia

“I just watched my grandchildren. First of all, they have life (in them). Even if they are very exhausted, I know they are in good hands,” their grandfather Fidencio Valencia, a 47-year-old Huitoto Indian, told reporters.

“They are happy to see the family (…) they have all their senses”, rejoiced their grandfather, traditional native poncho around his neck, in front of the military hospital of the capital.

“They are children of the bush” and they know how to survive in the jungle, rejoiced Mr. Valencia, while the first images released by the army showed them frail, thin and without shoes.

“They survived at first by eating a bit of flour (which was on board the crashed plane), then seeds,” he explained.

After wandering on their own for 40 days in the Amazon jungle of Guaviare, Lesly (13), Soleiny (9), Tien Noriel (4) and Cristin (1) were found alive on Friday afternoon by the lifeguards.

Originally from the Uitoto indigenous group, the children had wandered alone in the jungle since the May 1 crash of the small Cessna 206 plane in which they were traveling with their mother, the pilot and a relative. All three adults died and their bodies were found by the military at the crash site.

According to the army, the siblings were found about 5 km west of the crash site.

Helicoptered from the jungle and transported to the city of San Jose del Guaviare, they were transported overnight by medical plane to Bogota, to be hospitalized in an army health establishment.

“We have achieved the impossible”, welcomed the commander-in-chief of the Colombian armed forces, General Helder Fernan Giraldo, while the whole country rejoiced at this quadruple “miracle”.

President Gustavo Petro, who announced the news on Friday evening to the country, referring to “a magical day” and “joy”, was to visit the children in the morning at the hospital, which was thronged by many national and international media.

The children “were alone, they succeeded on their own. It is an example of total survival that will go down in history. These children are therefore today the children of peace and the children of Colombia”, he said on Friday, praising “the effective coordination between the military and the natives” during the research.

General Pedro Sanchez, who led the operations, told the press that he received the message late Friday afternoon: “We have found the children! Miracle, miracle, miracle!”.

After this rescue, the army said Saturday morning that the search was continuing in the area to find Wilson, a detection dog, a magnificent six-year-old Malinois lost in recent days in the thick vegetation. “Our principle: we leave no one behind”.

It is the “warrior” nature of Lesly, the eldest of the siblings, which allowed them to survive, judged grandmother Fatima Valencia. “She usually always looked after her siblings when their mother was working. Gave them flour, cassava bread, fruits from the bush”.

For the National Organization of Amerindian Peoples of Colombia (Opiac), it is also their native status, and this very special bond with nature, which has played in favor of their survival in the bush.

“The survival of children is a demonstration of the knowledge and relationship that the natives have with nature, a bond taught from the womb,” according to an Opiac press release.

More than 100 soldiers accompanied by sniffer dogs and dozens of natives had been looking for the children since the discovery of the plane, their noses planted on the ground in the middle of thick vegetation.

Still according to the army, the rescuers traveled, in more than a month, nearly 2656 km in this impenetrable jungle.

The children’s chances of survival seemed to decrease day by day, in this very hostile environment where jaguars, pumas, snakes and other predators roam. Insects of all kinds are particularly voracious there, the rains are daily, without access to drinking water.

The region is also an area of ​​strong influence for the dissident FARC, an armed group with which peace talks were recently broken off.

The news of the children’s disappearance had gone around the world, with videos and photos of the search operations carried out by the army, which followed their trail with the discovery of a bottle, scissors, shoes, nappies , chewed fruit, footprints or makeshift shelters.

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