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Heroes in the Caves of Thailand.

4 Heart it! Jacqueline Hathaway Levin 50
July 9, 2018
Jacqueline Hathaway Levin
4 Heart it! 50

Heroes are born here, and they are not always the ones diving through flooded canals. These boys became my heroes just for surviving. Every once in a while, we are moved by the miracle of survival and the will to live.
On multiple occasions, well known writer and activist, Glennon Doyle, has shared Mr. Rogers’ important view on crisis situations: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

The world watches as an impossible situation unfolds in the Tham Luang caves of Thailand. Divers attempt to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped deep within the cave network.

This is not a local story. It does not directly affect our lives, unless we are family, or a part of the Thai community. Still, there is one thing that rings true here: children are stuck in a cave. We want a solution for them—we want a solution with them. We feel the frustration of not knowing exactly what to do next, and we are moved by the courage it takes to solve the unsolvable.

Those who are not aiding in the rescue mission itself stand close to the cave entrance praying and offering support. The community gives itself to the mission in whatever way that they can—all I see are people who want to help. All I see are heroes coming to the surface in a time of need.

The actual journey to their location through the cave is extremely dangerous—oxygen levels continue to drop in the very crowded space. During a trip through the flooded passageways, Thai navy seal diver, Saman Gunan ran out of oxygen, lost consciousness, and could not be revived.

Most of the boys do not know how to swim when in full health—since the canals are narrow and challenging for even the most experienced divers, how they will have enough energy to make it out of the cave with zero diving experience?

I sat thinking about this for a little while as I watched videos of these kids. For a few moments, I felt like I was shoulder to shoulder with them. I put myself in the cave as they looked back at me in their soccer uniforms. I felt brave with them.

According to The New York Times the boys have started basic diving training with breathing masks. There are 140 divers from around the world who have gathered to aid in the rescue mission. Each person will be escorted out of the cave with a guide.

What an edge to ride along—one wrong move could be fatal for both parties if executed incorrectly. Time and accuracy are crucial.

I am reminded of  operation breakthrough in 1988 where global teams pulled together to free a family of gray whales stuck in pack ice of the Beaufort Sea in Alaska. It was an isolated event that brought the world together. The feeling of helping in some way however small felt really big at that moment.

This diving rescue is something that will go down in history, but for now, some of the boys are still trapped in the cave. The rescue mission is just beginning to unfold with the first of the boys being taken through the canals.

In a wild situation where bravery unfolds before our eyes, we are inspired by those who can offer what they know to help out. We are encouraged by the will to live, and I know I am empowered to engage my inner activist. I am reminded that dark times fuel us in powerful ways. We can find out what we are really capable of when we offer ourselves completely.

There are people who want to help.

Sometimes they do not know exactly what they are doing, but they step forward anyway. They show up. They survive when it seems like the least likely thing to do next.

Life gives us opportunities to be brave. Every day we have a chance to be a hero of some kind to someone. We offer what we know. Maybe that is cave diving. Maybe that looks more like a support group for victims. Maybe that is simply waking up, getting out of bed and making it through the entire day—survival is always a brave and heroic act. We all have something to offer. We are all heroes in our own way.

Photograph: ROYAL THAI ARMY/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

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4 Heart it! Jacqueline Hathaway Levin 50
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