Knowledge And Caring: Indigenous Children Journey In The Guaviare Jungle

During 37 days in the Guaviare jungle, Lesly also ensured the safety of her indigenous children, who relied on the care of an older person. Lesly's story points out the significance of women's caregiving within Latin American families and indigenous cultures. Without her knowledge of caring for infants and children, as well as her familiarity with the jungle, her 11-month-old brother might not have made it. Lesly tragically lost her mother, and circumstances forced her into the role of caretaker for her siblings. However, her family attests that she had already been involved in caregiving duties prior to these events.

The Woman Post | Diana Sedano

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Reader disclaimer:

The media coverage surrounding the indigenous children's survival story is extensive and has been replicated by the most widely read international newspapers. Therefore, the purpose of this article is not to retell the children's story but to highlight the role played by Lesly and to understand that she represents thousands of girls in Latin America who assume responsibilities that are typically associated with adults from a young age.

Lesly and Magdalena Mucutuy: We are Determined to Nurture in Groups

Lesly has played a crucial role in her family in accompanying and supporting her mother in caring for her siblings in a context of domestic violence – according to statements from her relatives– and violence due to the presence of illegal armed and mining groups. It is heartbreaking to think that indigenous children must endure such types of violence.

From a complementary perspective, this case leads us to consider the importance of recognizing that, although the need for individuality is emphasized nowadays, human beings are inherently social animals and seek to develop in groups. We are a species that seeks to live in society throughout our lives and we are the only ones capable of cooperate based on emotion, on a mass scale. We believe in stories told by our parents to cooperate and survive.

Accordingly, women who choose to become mothers find it easier to fulfill this role when they have a group of people collaborating in caregiving tasks. In traditional families where fathers are the providers or are absent, women take on the responsibilities of household chores and childcare. In cases of large families, it is common for mothers to seek support from their immediate circle, often relying on older daughters to help raise the younger ones. In Colombia, 77% of single-parent households, accounting for 14.56% of all households, are led by women. These women rely on their sisters, cousins, aunts, mothers, friends, neighbors, and daughters to provide care for their children.

The Relationship Between Care, Women and “the Feminine.”

The understanding of "the feminine" as a source of care is also ingrained in the cosmovision of the Uitoto indigenous community, to which Lesly and her siblings belong. According to interviews with community members, the jungle is not perceived as a threat; rather, it is viewed as an integral part of Mother Earth that protects those who inhabit it. While the media, army, and politicians depicted the children as fighting against the jungle to save their lives, their immediate circle deeply trusted that the jungle would provide for them and, if it was her will, safely guide them back to their community.

Beyond being a miracle, Lesly's ability to guide and protect her siblings was rooted in her knowledge of gathering fruits, hunting, identifying potentially dangerous plants, tracking animal behavior resembling that of humans, and employing strategies to evade attacks from animals such as snakes, tarantulas, or jaguars. Lesly was brave because like other species, humans are vulnerable in environments with scarce resources and potential predators.

You can also read: Will The Look Of The Planet From Indigenous Communities Make Us Reflect 

Hope, miracle, scape, fear, danger, respect, courage, and intelligence are some of the words used to capture Lesly's experiences, but only she can truly comprehend her thoughts and emotions. Despite our attempts to empathize from an external standpoint, we remain far from fully understanding their reality. We can all learn from Lesly without imposing our own expectations on her or trying to shape her into someone she isn't.

Now, Lesly and her siblings will have to navigate an unfamiliar jungle: the media, medical treatments they are not accustomed to, and the expectations of strangers. It will be a challenging environment where they will probably feel lost.


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