When there is hope

Onlookers wave as an ambulance carrying rescued schoolboys leaves a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

As celebrations rang out across the world over the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their soccer coach in a cave in the mountains of Thailand on Tuesday, tales of heroism are slowly emerging.

Stuck deep inside a cave, hours away from civilisation, the rescue effort took on massive proportions.

Various options were discussed in the very early stages of the rescue attempt including the children being forced to sit out the annual Thai monsoon rains, which could have stretched to months, inside the dark and damp cave.

They had been stuck there for more than two weeks.

The eventual rescue operation was triggered by impending monsoon rains, the depletion of oxygen levels reaching the team and other related factors.

What started out as a rescue operation that would have been the stuff of movies, soon gripped millions of people around the world.

The operation to bring the children, all of whom did not know how to swim, leave aside use a proper diving equipment, was watched step-by-step by a world that had been gripped by the enormity of it all.

It was a story that was almost too good to be true. It made the lead news for nights in succession on CNN and the BBC and all the top television stations and newspapers around the world.

What will no doubt be impressive though are a few factors including the resilience of the human spirit, the determination of rescuers, and most importantly global co-operation.

The world, in a sense, came together to lend a hand.

An Israeli company provided state of the art communication gear, and expert cave divers from many nations converged on the Thai mountains to assist.

The world governing body for soccer, FIFA, whipped out tickets to the World Cup final in Russia.

Manchester United, a global soccer brand offered to host the team. Barcelona, another soccer giant pitched in with a dream offer for the team.

There was joy when the youngest of the group, an 11-year-old, reached the surface.

It had taken 19 divers to accomplish this amazing feat in very treacherous conditions with the possibility of death hanging heavily on the shoulders of rescuers.

The death of a former Navy SEAL diver during the operation reflected the tough conditions that existed then.

Sometimes we forget who we are in the mechanics of how life evolves around us. This story has a beautiful ending and portrays why humans are special.

Sometimes it is good to know we are not alone, and when there is hope, somehow, there can be a bright light even in the darkest cave.

When all hope seemed lost, that word held these boys and their coach together.

In the end, rescue commander Narongsak Osottanakorn declared on Tuesday that it was “mission complete” at a press conference, confirming the doctor and Navy SEALs were out of the cave. There are many heroes to acknowledge and thank. Hope is such a powerful word.

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