'Miracle Boy' Refugee Played a Crucial Role in Thai Cave Rescue
The top student escaped ethnic persecution in Myanmar to live in Thailand without his parents.
As the world continues to celebrate the return of 12 young soccer players trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand last week, one of the surviving children has been revealed as a hero integral to the complicated rescue, reports CBS News.
Adun Sam-On, a 14-year-old top student and star athlete who speaks four languages, was able to take a leadership role inside of the cave by translating for British divers. Staff at his school say it is not the first time the boy has had to overcome significant challenges, having escaped ethnic conflict in Myanmar to live alone as a refugee without a home or family in Thailand.
"He's a miracle boy," Adun Sam-On’s teacher, Kru Nice, told CBS News. "I'm so happy he's safe."
Adun Sam-On arrived in Thailand eight years ago, after being slipped out of his home country by his parents. He is among a group of students at his school considered "stateless," according to CBS News. He's not a citizen of any country. But despite his status, he remains an academic success and a standout athlete.
Coach Ekapol Chanthawong and his players, who are between the ages of 11 and 16, were exploring an underground cave after soccer practice on June 23 when it was flooded by monsoon rain, according to the AP. Ten days later, two British divers found the group.
All of the boys from the cave are currently under observation in a Thai hospital, with their parents able to wave to them from behind a glass window, according to CBS News.
Many in the group have said they would like to become monks following their rescue, during which they remained calm through hours of Buddhist meditation, according to CNBC. They also hope to put on their soccer cleats again soon.