A real-life Mowgli woman was raised in a cave, stalked by jaguars and even killed another child during a brutal fight for survival.
Christina Rickardsson’s remarkable upbringing, which bears some resemblance to the Disney classic Jungle Book, saw her raised by a mother deep in the Brazilian rainforest .
The 35-year-old says she had to eat birds and berries for food and was close to starvation while living in the wilderness.
She tells the story of her savage childhood an a new book, Never Stop Walking.
Rickardsson reveals she once killed a street child whom she had to kill in order to survive.
Her mum, Petronilia, had brought her to the caves when she was 15 days old in April 1983 after running away from her abusive brother.
Rickardsson reveals in her book, serialised in news.com.au : "Achingly poor, we would eat birds killed by slingshot and regularly hike to Diamantina (the nearest town) to sell dried leaves and flowers and buy rice.
"I gained confidence from hunting and scavenging and still recall my immense pride when I claimed my first bird, which we grilled over our tiny fire pit."
Rickardsson also describes how both she hid from man-eating jaguars saying: "The growling was enough to make my mother and me shake with fear."
As well as dodging poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions, as a young girl Rickardsson had to have her wits about her living rough.
Both she and her mother often begged on the streets of Sao Paulo for money where they were spat at and called ‘cockroaches’.
And aged seven, Rickardsson got in a fight with a street boy over a piece of bread from a bin.
She wrote: "Grappling on the ground, I heard a clinking sound next to me — a big piece of a glass bottle. I picked it up in my hand.
"He turned around, and without thinking, still moving, I jabbed that piece of glass at his belly as hard as I could.
"At first I felt nothing. Then my hand got warm. Blood gushed from the wound. I took the bread from the boy as he screamed and doubled over in pain.
"After I’d run a fair way, I started eating. But then I started vomiting. The realisation of what I’d done hit me.’
Days later, Rickardsson heard a rumour that the boy had died.
Her life then changed dramatically in 1991 when she was put in an orphanage and was adopted by a middle-class family in Sweden.
She returned to Brazil for the first time in 24 years in 2015 and tracked down her long-lost mother, before she found the children’s charity, Coelho Growth Foundation.
Speaking about her struggles growing up has not been easy for the charity boss.
She revealed via Instagram back in May that she had been threatened for revealing the truth about her childhood.
Rickardsson said: "I have been called murderer and I have been called communist for telling my truth. For speaking up and trying to give millions of street children a voice. For talking about integration and that we all have the same human value.
"But I will keep on doing my thing, I will continue to tell my story and the story of so many children around the world.
"I will keep on fighting for human rights and for equality in my own way, by giving lectures and keep on writing and addressing these problems.
"I will keep on walking! So thanks for your love and support. Without it I wouldn’t have made it this far."
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