Colombia Indigenous children survived 40 days eating seeds, roots

Four Colombian Indigenous children, who were discovered 40 days after their plane crashed in the Amazon jungle, survived eating seeds, roots and plants they knew were edible thanks to their upbringing, according to Indigenous people.

“The survival of the children is a sign of the knowledge and relationship with the natural environment that is taught starting in the mother’s womb,” according to the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia (OPIAC).The local knowledge of Indigenous adults, who were involved in the search alongside Colombian troops, also played a part in the children being found alive.

The four siblings, aged 13, nine and four, as well as a now 12-month-old baby, survived a small plane crash on May 1 that took the lives of the pilot, their mother and a third adult. The children’s family clung to the hope that the siblings’ familiarity with the jungle would see them through.

“They are Indigenous children and they know the jungle well. They know what to eat and what not to eat. They survived because of this and their spiritual force,” said Luis Acosta of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).

Acosta, who took part in search operations, said the children ate seeds, fruits, roots and plants they identified as edible from their upbringing in the Amazon region.The children have been reunited with their family after their rescue on Friday.

“They are happy to see the family… they have all their senses,” the children’s grandfather, Fidencio Valencia, told reporters shortly after visiting them at a military hospital in the capital Bogota.

“They are children of the bush,” Valencia said, adding that they know how to survive in the jungle.

Javier Betancourt, another ONIC leader, told AFP: “We have a particular connection to nature.”‘Operation Hope’
During the search, soldiers worked side by side with Indigenous trackers for 20 days.

Army chief Helder Giraldo said rescuers had covered over 2,600 kilometers (1,650 miles) in total to locate the children. “Something that seemed impossible was achieved,” Giraldo said on Twitter.

President Gustavo Petro praised what he called a “meeting of Indigenous and military knowledge” that he said showed respect for the jungle.

Army helicopters broadcast recordings of the children’s grandmother telling them in the Indigenous Huitoto language to stay put in one spot until rescuers reached them.

“It was President Petro who brought us together,” Acosta told local media, referring to soldiers and Indigenous experts.

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