The Colombian government has joined forces with British producer Simon Chinn to create a documentary recounting the incredible survival story of four Indigenous children who spent 40 days alone in the Amazon following a plane crash that claimed the life of their mother. Colombian President Gustavo Petro revealed this collaboration on Friday while attending a climate summit in Paris.
Petro, who had a preliminary meeting with Simon Chinn, a two-time Oscar winner renowned for his documentaries “Man on Wire” (2008) and “Searching for Sugar Man” (2012), expressed his excitement about the project. The four children, named Lesly (13), Soleiny (9), Tien Noriel (5), and Cristin (1), were the sole survivors of the plane crash that occurred on May 1. Sadly, their mother and two other adults onboard lost their lives.
It was an arduous endeavor for approximately 200 military personnel and Indigenous rescuers, aided by search dogs, to locate the children amidst the challenging jungle terrain. Eventually, after 40 days, the siblings were found on June 9. The discovery of some of their belongings near the crash site prompted an extensive search that involved elite military commandos and Indigenous spiritual guides who eventually guided the rescuers to the children’s location.
On Thursday, President Petro shared a photo in which he appeared alongside Simon Chinn, Guillermo Galdos, a correspondent from Britain’s Channel 4 television, and Hollman Morris, the director of television for Colombian state broadcaster RTVC. Petro announced that RTVC would collaborate with Lightbox, Simon Chinn’s production company, to document the extraordinary “Operation Hope,” the name given to the massive search operation.
Petro emphasized the importance of engaging with the children’s family and the Indigenous communities, as well as accessing the archives of images, in order to authentically tell the story. The children, who were found in a makeshift shelter, were underweight and dehydrated but managed to survive by consuming wild fruits and utilizing the resourcefulness of Lesly, who ingeniously collected water in a soda bottle for their sustenance.
Currently, the children are recuperating satisfactorily at a military hospital in Bogota. The medical center reported that they are displaying improvements in appetite, weight gain, and tolerance to food intake.
The documentary project aims to shed light on this remarkable tale of survival and resilience while highlighting the extensive search efforts and the importance of the Indigenous communities’ involvement.