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 this Friday after surviving a plane crash and 40 days homeless in the Colombian Amazon.
“She always took care of them when their mother worked. She gave them fariñita, casabito (flour and cassava bread), any fruit in the bush,” Fátima Valencia, the mother of Magdalena Mucutuy, told AFP, who died when the plane hit the who was traveling with her children collapsed on May 1.
indigenous women “we are very warlike”emphasizes Valencia, who is waiting in a hotel in the city of Villavicencio (downtown) for the moment 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. Around midnight, an ambulance plane from the Air Force was taking them to Bogotá.
“I just want to see them, touch them,” adds Fidencio Valencia, the children’s grandfather, also in Villavicencio.
like the little Lesly, her brothers Soleiny (9) and Tien Noriel (4) “They are very boars (skillful) to walk” through the jungle, the 47-year-old Huitoto indigenous man had told AFP in another interview.
Also little Cristin survived, who turned one year old during the amazing journey of the minors through the forest.
Using sniffer dogs, helicopters and aircraft, a hundred soldiers and dozens of indigenous people found the bodies of the three adults who were traveling in the aircraft. The children, on the other hand, were not located.
From then on, a spectacular search operation was launched by heaven and earth in which they found clues that at least one of them was still alive: scissors, a bottle, bitten fruit, improvised shelters with leaves. Indications that the children could be wandering among the dense vegetation where jaguars, pumas and poisonous snakes live.
“We don’t let our guard down with our grandfather, with my brother, we pray every night,” says Fátima. They entrusted the fate of the minors to the “spirits of tobacco and mambe”, a coca leaf-based 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 hundreds of military and indigenous people who worked shoulder to shoulder in the search. “Also to mother earth who released them,” Fatima added.
Initially, the so-called “Operation Hope” followed the trail of the children in an area of about 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 deluded on May 17 with the supposed rescue of the children, when President Gustavo Petro announced it falsely. The next day he retracted it and claimed that he had been misinformed.
On this occasion, the president broke the news with images of the minors in the middle of the jungle as proof of the rescue.
“Until I looked at their photos (I said): yes it’s true,” says Fátima, relieved.
In the pictures they look very skinny and have no shoes. Doctors await their arrival at a military airport in Bogotá to assess them.
However, Fatima and Fidencio ask to be the first to attend to them: “We have to blow on their bodies so that they gain strength and there we hand them over so that the western part can look at them,” says the grandmother.
From now on, she hopes to have “custody” of the minors, after the death of her mother: “I can give them an education, I can still (…) That will be my pride. My daughter is watching and she will give me spiritual encouragement , strength,” he said.