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4-year-old girl treks miles through frozen tundra in search of help for ailing grandmother

March 15, 2017

A 4-year-old girl in Russia’s Tuva republic is being celebrated as a hero after she walked five miles through the snow in sub-freezing temperatures in order to find help for her ailing grandmother. Last month, Saglana Salchak was living with her grandparents on a remote farm deep in the Taiga forest near the border of Mongolia when she woke to find her 60-year-old grandmother lying unnaturally still. After consulting with her blind grandfather, locals news outlets reported, according to The Guardian, the child decided to walk to their closest neighbors for help — a five mile trek along a riverbank covered by snowdrifts.

The journey was a dangerous one — the child set out in early-morning darkness and braved temperatures of -29 degrees Fahrenheit, while also remaining on the lookout for the wolves that had taken to plundering her grandparents’ livestock. “Tuva has simply filled up with wolves,” said Semyon Rubtsov, head of the regional search and rescue group. “She could have easily stumbled on a pack in the darkness.”

Unable to spot her neighbor’s house amidst the undergrowth, the child had almost passed the building when the neighbors spotted her in the snow and called medical personnel from the local village. After checking on the girl, the specialists traveled to the girl’s grandparent’s farm where they found the grandmother dead from a heart attack.

“You can’t [easily] impress residents of the remote Tere-Kholsky district with extreme stories about Taiga life,” wrote Tuva Online in a story celebrating Saglana’s heroics. “Nonetheless, the incident several days ago amazed even the old-timers in Kungurtug, the district center.”

A criminal case against the child’s mother, who together with her stepfather owns a herd of horses in a different part of the region, is reportedly being pursued by the Tuva investigative committee on the basis that child’s safety had been endangered. But according to Sayana Mongush, an activists and journalist, the real culprit in the case was the Russian government for failing to provide people in remote areas with the technology to reach help.

Saglana, who has said that she was not afraid while making the journey but that she had “really wanted to eat,” is currently living at a social center where she recently celebrated her 5th birthday.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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