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How Children Survived 40 Days in Jungle

In the dead of night at the heart of the Colombian jungle, army radios crackled to life with the message the nation had been praying for: "Miracle, miracle, miracle, miracle." The military code revealed that four children missing in the jungle for 40 days had all been found--alive.

The youngsters, all members of the indigenous Huitoto people, had been missing since the light plane they were travelling in crashed into the Amazon on May 1, 2023. The tragedy killed their mother and the two pilots and left the children--aged 13, nine, four, and one--stranded alone in an area teeming with snakes, jaguars, and mosquitos.

Rescuers initially feared the worst, but footprints, partially eaten wild fruit and other clues soon gave them hope that the children might be alive after they left the crash site looking for help. Over the next six weeks, the children battled the elements in what Colombia's President Gustavo Petro called "an example of total survival which will remain in history."

If there were ever children well-prepared to tackle such an ordeal, the Mucutuy family were the ones. Huitoto people learn hunting, fishing, and gathering from an early age, and their grandfather told reporters that the eldest children were well acquainted with the jungle.

Speaking to Colombian media, the children's aunt said the family would regularly play a “survival game” together growing up. She recalled, “When we played, we set up little camps. Thirteen-year-old Lesly knew what fruits she can't eat, because there are many poisonous fruits in the forest. And she knew how to take care of a baby.”

After the crash, Lesly built makeshift shelters from branches held together with her hair ties. She also recovered fariña, a type of cassava flour, from the wreckage of the Cessna plane they had been travelling in. The children survived on the flour until it ran out and then they ate seeds. The fruit from the avichure tree, also known as milk tree, is rich in sugar and its seeds can be chewed like chewing gum.

But they still faced significant challenges surviving in the inhospitable environment. Indigenous expert Alex Rufino said the children were in “a very dark, very dense jungle, where the largest trees in the region are.” In addition to avoiding predators, the children also endured intense rainstorms.

John Moreno, leader of the Guanano group in the south-eastern part of Colombia where the children were brought up, said they had been "raised by their grandmother," a widely respected indigenous elder. He said, “They used what they learned in the community, relied on their ancestral knowledge in order to survive.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

It is the duty of parents and the church community to train up children to survive and thrive in the hostile environment of the world. It is literally “a jungle out there” for our children and they must be prepared when they are young.

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