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8 Valuable Life Lessons to Learn from the Thailand Cave Rescue Incident
By Archana Mohan, parent of Arnav Prasanna, Grade 2, CMRNPS
Something spectacular happened a few weeks back.
No, not the football world cup, although that was exciting too.
The incident I refer to here is the incredible story of a group of school going boys between the ages of 11 and 16, much like yourselves, who got trapped in the underbelly of a flooded cave complex in Thailand.
For 9 days, these youngsters, all happy-go-lucky players of a local football team calling themselves the ‘Wild Boars’ and their coach, survived in treacherous conditions with low oxygen levels, no food, electricity or supplies before being miraculously rescued a few days later. Not even Hollywood could have written a script like this!
Photo from GODTv
Every inch of this fascinating and sometimes harrowing story had something to teach us about the human spirit. Here are some of them :
- Respect nature
The warning signs said it was dangerous to enter the cave during monsoon but it was just a matter of roaming about for an hour or two. What could go wrong? As it turns out, a lot! To appreciate nature, we must respect it. That means making a smart decision of staying indoors or at a safe place during adverse weather conditions. Celebrate nature by joining groups that conserve it instead of pulling off a stunt just to click selfies!
- Leadership in times of crisis
In a matter of hours, as the team got stuck deep inside the underground cave with raging flood waters, 25-year-old Ekapol Chanthawong saw his role transform dramatically. From a rookie assistant football coach, he was now the life support for 12 terrified young boys. True leaders do not point fingers or rant about their misfortune. Instead, they stand in the front and tackle the crisis head-on. That’s exactly what Ekapol did.
- Education never goes to waste
On the 9th day of their isolation, two British divers finally reached the group and began to talk in English. A 14-year-old boy named Adul Sam-on was the only one in the group who could speak the language. As an illegal migrant, Adul had no legal documentation, financial support or opportunities like his friends, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his studies and acquiring proficiency in English, Chinese, Burmese and Thai. Thanks to the information he provided, the divers were able to go back for more help.
Photo from CNN
- Having a positive attitude
When it was clear that they were stuck in a 100 square foot area with nowhere else to go, the team talked about their options and decided to take it calmly. They drank water from the pores of the cave to keep themselves hydrated and started digging holes on the cave’s surface, to keep themselves occupied. Hours turned into days but the group stayed positive and made it without food and supplies till the 9th day when they were finally found.
- The power of meditation
During the ordeal, there came a few moments of anxiety, panic and hopelessness. There was no food and the oxygen levels had dropped to 15% but these were dealt with calmly by the group. How? Thanks to meditation. Ekapol had grown up in a monastery all his life and was a monk before he turned to coach football. He knew the power of meditation in such situations and made the boys meditate every day, soothing their nerves and invariably preparing them for the daring rescue ahead.
- Rallying together as a community
When news broke of the boys being stuck in the cave complex, a team of elite cave divers from UK and Australia boarded the first flight to Thailand. Retired Navy Seals, firefighters on holiday, foreign military forces and even locals carrying tons of food for the rescuers, arrived at the cave entrance without any prompting. That is the true spirit of humankind. No matter what our little differences may be, when it comes to a crisis, we rally together as one and help out those in need.
- The true heroes to look up to
The next time you are asked to write an essay on your hero, think about the selfless people like soldiers standing guard on borders and search and rescue operators (many of them volunteers) who stake their lives for the greater good. During this operation, a retired Navy Seal from Thailand lost his life as he carried oxygen tanks for the boys and conserved too little for himself. Unlike cricketers and film stars, these people go unnoticed. No one knows their names. They don’t even earn a tenth of what celebrities do, but it doesn’t matter to them. These are the true champions of the society and we must never forget their sacrifice and contribution.
- Understanding your life’s purpose
After he spearheaded the rescue, John Volanthen, the lead diver was asked about cave diving. He said “I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have a purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”
What a profound statement that is! As you climb up the ladder of your academic life, you may feel disillusioned at times. How is solving this algebra equation going to help me in the future? How is doing a Sirsana in the Yoga period going to benefit me? As John put it, the answer lies in being patient and being prepared when you finally find your life’s mission.
When she is not playing referee between her two kids (ages 7 and 2), Ms. Archana Mohan is a senior editor with Inkling Asia and a freelance journalist. She writes about finance, travel, sport and inspirational people. She blogs at archanamohan.wordpress.com