Four young Huitoto children were rescued from the Amazon jungle after being stuck inside for 40 days. The miraculous rescue followed a tragic plane crash on 1 May, where the children’s mother and two other adults lost their lives. Left to fend for themselves, the siblings aged one, five, nine, and 13 survived in Colombia’s southern jungle until they were found in Caqueta province.

The children’s journey began when the aircraft they were traveling in issued a distress call due to engine failure. They were attempting to escape from an armed group that had threatened them. The pilot and the two other adults onboard perished in the crash, while the four children managed to escape.

Thirteen-year-old Lesly, the eldest among them, demonstrated tremendous bravery and leadership throughout the ordeal. It is thanks to her that her younger siblings survived. After the supplies from the plane ran out, the children sustained themselves by eating cassava flour, known as fariña, which they found onboard. When that was exhausted, they relied on foraging fruits and seeds from the jungle.

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Indigenous knowledge and the assistance of Indigenous communities played a crucial role in the survival of the Huitoto children. Their ancestral wisdom, combined with modern techniques employed during the rescue mission, kept hope and joy alive. The efforts of 70 Indigenous individuals with intimate knowledge of the land, alongside 160 soldiers, led to the successful rescue.

Currently, the children are being treated at a military hospital in Bogota, where they are reportedly in an acceptable state of health. President Gustavo Petro and other officials have visited the young survivors. Although they are thin and have minor injuries, they are out of immediate danger.

In the coming days, the children will have the opportunity to share their own stories about their remarkable survival. The father of the two youngest siblings expressed his belief that they would eventually tell their tales. While it remains challenging to obtain information from the eldest child due to their weakened state, their remarkable resilience and endurance are evident to all.

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As Colombia celebrates the safe return of these children, their survival stands as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the importance of Indigenous knowledge. The children, who have become symbols of hope and resilience, will now embark on a path of recovery, supported by their family, medical professionals, and the nation.