|Eleven members of the cave-dweller rescued Wild Boar soccer team offered prayers prior to changing out of their Buddhist robes in Mae Sai, Thailand. They had served as novice monks to make merit and give thanks for their miraculous, internationally supported rescue from the Tham Luang cave. The twelve team members and their coach, who had been trapped by rapidly rising flood waters in the cave on June 23, 2018, were brought out safely between July 8-10.
The team was welcomed back to school with a special ceremony by the provincial deputy governor of Chiang Rai province. A traditional bai sai ritual was performed to signify moral support for the boys. Moreover, extensive preparations were made to enable the boys to catch up with their academic studies following the time lost in their study programs. The Thai and international communities reached out with compassionate support during the rescue effort to be underscored by their local community upon their return home.
Special care has been exercised to monitor any mental health issues that may develop following their long period of entrapment in the cave. The boys have been encouraged to stick together, to support each other and to engage in activities as a team as they go forward following their most difficult ordeal, much like a group therapy program. Media interaction is a concern given the tremendous attention focused on their experience that could further remind them of their trauma. Team solidarity was enhanced with gifts of Bayern Munich soccer jerseys by a representative of the German club given the boys keen support for that team. Historically, the definition of World Cup soccer was "many countries play but the Germans always win" though the French disproved that theory this year.
During the course of the cave rescue effort, it was pointed out that three of the boys and their coach were "stateless" residents of Thailand despite the fact that the three boys had been born in Thailand. The four of them were among as many as 3.5 million such "stateless" people in Thailand, as estimated by the International Observatory on Statelessness. In their case, they were members of minority groups that immigrated from Myanmar and were not considered to be Thais though they spoke fluent Thai. Since 2008, some 100,000 such stateless people have been granted citizenship which seems to be a most ponderous and fickle process.
Therefore, a second miracle occurred in that all four of them were granted Thai citizenship indicating that media attention on a flawed naturalization process sometimes works in one's favor. The fairy tale story continued as shown below with images of the coach and one of the boys receiving their identity cards.
The smile on the student's face says it all.
Thailand recently launched an international campaign of thanks to the many people around the world who supported the effort to rescue the Wild Boars from the Tham Luang cave. If you look carefully in the image below, you can see rescuers in the background with the message imposed on it.
The formal "Thank You" is in the video frame below.
Rest assured this wonderful story will be coming to a "Big Screen" or an airplane near you some day in the future. Moreover, after the dust has settled, The Elephant Story would like to follow up personally with the coach on one of their frequent trips to Mae Sai.