Rescue of hope

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No matter how technology-driven we are, the solutions to the most challenging situations are born of the human mind

Hope was a tiny pinhole in a sea of darkness. Yet human will squeezed itself through it, widening it into an earthly reality. The dramatic and miraculous rescue of the Thai boys from a flooded cave that had the world at its feet is testament to the fact that no matter how much technology-driven we are, the solutions to the most challenging situations are born of the human mind, endeavour and most importantly adaptability and innovation. It also proves that in times of extreme crisis, especially ones where nature plays truant, no amount of technological expertise can rig together a survival module. Billionaire Elon Musk’s submersible was absolutely useless. The children were, after all, saved by traditional underwater dive rescue. And the only technology that worked were water pumps to flush out the caves. India’s Kirloskar pumps came to good use here. But it was the more than 100 divers, paramedics and the 10,000-member international crew of volunteers who achieved a mission impossible. Of course, the credit goes to the divers, who perhaps for the first time in recent marine feats, strapped the air tanks on their backs and not sideways to go through the narrow hooked channels, where one had to climb up and down near-vertical and submerged slopes. Two divers literally held on to the boys’ limbs from front and back in an escorted chain rescue that has no precedent. Then there was the doctor who revived the trapped boys with protein gels and kept their morale up, not leaving their side for almost three days after they were detected. And the most heroic effort came from the boys themselves, who kept going on for about ten days before they were discovered in a castaway dungeon of darkness, without food, water or a chance to escape. The world’s best cave diver said that it was unlikely the weakened boys would make it out as nowhere in the world had a kid or teen cave-dived before. Remember touristy scuba-diving is entirely different from cave-diving where the waters are swirling in murky currents and visibility is zero.

Yet the spirited boys held on to  the escape rope, feeling it rather than seeing it with torchlights. Some had lung infection and weak heartbeats but still made it out on faith, with courage and determination. In our times, these words have ended up being homiletic. But in the end it’s the human value and potential they embody that turned the Thai cave rescue as the world’s greatest story. Yes, miracles are entirely man-made. 

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