From wars to terrorist attacks, the world has been plagued with so many challenges that have brought governments and families to their knees. In such trying times, we're met with a heavy feeling of hopelessness. In local parlance, people turn to phrases like “Bahala na” (contraction of ‘Bathala na’ meaning 'leave it to God’s will') and just hope that everything turns out right in the end. Despite these trying times, Thailand has become a beacon showing the way on how a sense of community and togetherness not only save lives but inspire others to lend a helping hand in their own way.
The children in crisis
On June 23, 2018, a football team called the WIld Boards, comrprising young kids from Thailand, had just finished their practice match. Together with their coach, they went on a short field trip to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand. Disaster struck when a monsoon hit, and flooded the cave system, trapping them all inside. To the rest of the world, it was just another rainy day.
When the children failed to come home, and the families grew more concerned, the Thai government launched a search and rescue mission to track down their whereabouts. Over a thousand people volunteered to search for the Wild Boars. Ten days later, rescuers discovered their location, however, realising that they could not mount an immediate rescue because of the flooding in the caves.
Careful planning was done prior to the daring rescue operation, as the monsoon posed a unique challenge to the authorities considering the flooding, structure of the caves, and other forces of nature that needed to be taken into account. Besides the possibility of floodwater rising due to heavy rainfall, there is also the issue of falling oxygen levels in the chamber where the team is trapped in. In a mission to bring oxygen to the team, a former Thai Navy Seal diver by the name of Saman Gunan ran out of oxygen on his way back to the cave entrance. His death underscored one of the many dangers of making that journey from the chamber through the flooded and incredibly narrow passageways.
When things were ironed out and risks mitigated last Sunday, a team of British divers and members of Thailand’s Navy SEAL unit started their mission to save the trapped children and their coach. After replenishing supplies and oxygen, they continued efforts by Monday. During the entire crisis, citizens flocked to the site to provide food and support in their own unique ways – from providing laundry services to the officials and volunteers whose uniforms were drenched in flood waters and mud, to providing haircuts and foot massages.
On Tuesday, July 10, at half-past 6 o’clock in Thailand, all twelve boys and their coach were finally saved. The team was rushed to the hospital and are in recovery.
Regardless of what one’s beliefs are, value for human life is one that is universal. Family, friends and strangers came together to teach the world two lessons – that there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome when we work together, and that support can come in all shapes and sizes.
In the aftermath of the rescue, several posts online surfaced with debates on proper parenting, discussions on liabilities, and political commentaries on how there was so much focus on the rescue of these children, while there are those separated from their families at borders brought about by policies or war. While we have come out victories in this battle there are far more cried for help in our world today that could use some team work and fruitful collaboration. As people bask in the deafening thankful cries of Thai families who have their children back safely in their homes, there is more to be done still for a variety of communities and issues. Through Thailand’s example, we hope people are inspired and take action together to resolve social issues not just through financial contribution, but also by taking proactive stance in our personal lives, and community to contribute what we can to solve these problems, together.
Cover Photo from Thailand Navy SEALS Facebook
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