A Colombian mother and her three children were rescued after being lost in the Amazon forest in Peru for 34 days. They have been reunited with their father and are receiving medical treatment.

By Lena Hansen
February 03, 2020

After being lost in the Amazon forest in Peru for 34 days, a Colombian mother and her three kids have been rescued. Last week, the family — who survived by eating seeds, plants, wild berries, and fruits — was found near the village of Yubito by members of the Secoya indigenous group, who called the authorities and helped in their rescue.

According to reports, 40-year-old mother María Oliva Pérez Arenas and her kids — ages 10, 12, and 14 — disappeared on December 19 after getting lost while exploring the jungle during a vacation in Colombia, where they were visiting the children’s father. They walked along the Putumayo River —which runs through Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador — and crossed into Peru without knowing it.

The Secoya indigenous community that welcomed the Colombian family alerted the Peruvian navy about their discovery. Then, with the help of Colombian military officials, they transported the mother and her children by hovercraft 110 miles to Puerto Leguizamo in Colombia. There they reunited with her husband, the children’s father, who reported them missing in December after they failed to meet him at the agreed point in the forest to travel together back to Colombia.

After almost five weeks in the jungle, the mother and her children presented signs of dehydration, malnourishment, and skin infection, and are being treated at a local hospital, where they are being tested for mosquito-borne illnesses like yellow fever and malaria.

Colombian network Caracol reported that the mother recalled about their difficult journey: “If we didn’t have water every 30 minutes, we’d faint. We had to keep stopping all the time and the girls couldn’t walk anymore.” General Sergio Alfredo Serrano of the Colombian navy said the mother and her children were covered in bites and stings and had cuts on their feet.

“We were desperate, we got scared, we didn’t know where to go. I told the kids that we were lost,” Perez Arenas told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. “We need to calm down and find a place to sleep.” She added that she never lost her faith. “I told them that God will take care of us, protect us and help us and we will find a way out.”

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