In 1980 seven-year-old Sabine Kuegler and her family went to live in a remote jungle area of West Papua among the recently discovered Fayu - a tribe untouched by modern civilisation. Her childhood was spent hunting, shooting poisonous spiders with arrows and chewing on pieces of bat-wing in place of gum. She also learns how brutal nature can be - and sees the effect of war and hatred on tribal peoples.
After the death of her Fayu-brother, Ohri, Sabine decides to leave the jungle and, aged seventeen, she goes to a boarding school in Switzerland - a traumatic change for a girl who acts and feels like one of the Fayu. 'Fear is something I learnt here' she says. 'In the Lost Valley, with a lost tribe, I was happy. In the rest of the world it was I who was lost.'
Here is Sabine Kuegler's remarkable true story of a childhood lived out in the Indonesian jungle, and the struggle to conform to European society that followed.
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Born in 1972 in Nepal, Sabine Kuegler was five when she came to live in the remote West Papuan jungle. Today she lives near Hamburg, has four children and has started up her own media company.From Booklist:
Kuegler, who has resided in the "modern world" for only 15 years, begins her extraordinary memoir in 1980, when at age 8 she and her German family moved to the "Lost Valley" in Indonesia's interior, home of the primitive Fayu tribe. Despite the difficult living conditions--boiled river water for baths, a kerosene stove for cooking, an abundance of insects, snakes, and plate-sized spiders--Sabine always feels at home there, living "a life without stress in midst of nature, untouched by modern civilization." She and her siblings teach the native children soccer and hide-and-seek; in return they learn how to survive in the jungle. Kuegler's family gradually teaches its hosts to break the cycle of revenge and murder that has ruled their behavior for centuries, causing the Fayu to live in constant fear, never sure of a viable future. Eventually Kuegler forsakes this world, returning to Germany to pursue traditional education and marriage, but she never forgets the tranquility and comfort she derived from her years in the jungle. Deborah Donovan
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