There's a message for our children in the miraculous 40-day Amazon survival: Lt Col Hemanth Raj

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L-R: The handout photo released on June 9, 2023, by the Colombian Presidency, members the Army pose with four Indigenous children who were found alive after spending more than a month lost in the Colombian Amazon jungle following the crash of a small plane. Lt Col Hemanth Raj of the Indian Army.

The miraculous 40-day survival of four children in the punishing Amazon jungle has an underlining message that is more than just a feel-good story, says Lieutenant Colonel Hemanth Raj, an Indian army officer who has led several rescue missions in the country.

Lt Col Raj has shared, on Facebook, his views on the seemingly unbelievable survival story of the four little members of an indigenous community in Colombia.

The Indian army officer has hailed the eldest child, Lesly Jacobo Bonbaire (13), who ensured the survival of her siblings, Solecni Ranoque Mucutuy (9), Tien Noriel (4) and Cristian Neryman (1).

Having led missions throughout the country - during the floods in Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Kerala, and famously rescuing a stranded hiker in the Kurumbachi Hill in Malappuzha last February -- Lt Col Raj knows a thing or two about survival.

"Whenever we go on a rescue, we hope those affected stay strong and show a willingness to survive. I saw that in Babu in the Kurumbachi Hills, on my last rescue mission in Kerala," said Lt Col Raj.

While he hailed the willpower, courage and leadership of the siblings who survived the Amazon jungles, he fears "most of our children are unable to face even the simplest of issues in life".

"When we keep our children safe, shielding them from rain, sun and playtime, their world shrinks and we don't realise that we are curtailing the warrior in them.

"I've seen many parents say that their boy or girl cannot travel by bus unattended. There are many children in our midst who don't know what to do when they are left alone or lost or when the power is out.

"Once a 14-year-old son of a friend rang him up in the Gulf when he ran out of water back home. We desire to provide everything for our children, but we must also train them to do things on their own."

According to the Indian army officer, parents and schools must train children on basic survival techniques. "They must attend camps. How many of our children know about the tribal settlement in Attapady that they live in their indigenous ways? Our children may be unaware of the hilly regions or forests or even the local destinations." He said children must do sports to increase their mental strength.

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