MAE SAI, Thailand – It's a simple tune sung by schoolchildren sitting around candles for plucking acoustic guitars: "I'm begging for mercy and empathy / My brothers are In Tham Luang Khun Nang Non / Let them face this danger, please. "
The song is dedicated to the events in a flooded mountain cave in northern Thailand, where 12 boys aged 11-16 and their football coach disappeared for a week. It was written and performed by students from the Lek Nai Tung Kwang School throughout the Kingdom in Buriram Province.
The music video was broadcast in national news broadcasts around the clock on the search and rescue operation at Tham Luang Nang Non Cave in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai. It is part of an upsurge of hope, empathy and concern in the Southeast Asian nation for the boys, their families and the army of people working to bring them home.
"We are worried, everyone wants to hear good news," said Keeta Wariburee, a teacher at the school that produced the video. "We want to help them, but if we were up there, we'd probably only be in the way, so we'll do what we can by sending encouragement."
Savior like Thai Navy elite divers, a US military team and British cave experts have been frustrated by the prolonged rainfall that has flooded the cave and made the search for the boys difficult. Despite the efforts to drain the water, muddy floods reached near the entrance of the cave, while rescuers tried to find hidden shafts in the green mountainside to reach the cave. In a desperate move, the officials dropped into the shafts care packages filled with food, drinks, a telephone, a flashlight, candles, a lighter, and a map of the cave
For a country that is deeply rooted in political unrest and conflict After a military coup four years ago, the sight of mud-encrusted soldiers and volunteers working in the pouring rain remains filled with pride and a sense of common cause.
Lamduan Mayula traveled from the province of Payao to the cave, where she owns a souvenir shop and volunteers as rescue workers. She and her friends have set up a kitchen and distribute food to hungry workers.
"I feel like I have to do something, I can not sit at home and see the news," she said. "And I'll stay here until we can go home with the boys and their coach."
In solidarity with the missing, students throughout Thailand organize mass prayers and other events. They showed solidarity by forming the number 13 in rows – the number of missing persons. Some folded origami paper cranes with support messages.
Muangthong United, one of the largest and most popular teams in Thailand's top football league, made a similar gesture and released a video in which players and staff stand in the middle of a stadium, holding hands in a circle around soccer balls that make up number 13 ,
In a post on his Facebook page this April, Eakapol Chantawong, the missing coach of the Boys Wild Boars football team, checked into the stadium and wrote: "One day I have to bring my young players here."
A number of hashtags have become popular in social media, including those that translate as "13 lives must survive," "send encouragement to Tham Luang," and "strangers whose faces we love to see."
Emotional drawings and pictures also make the rounds. One shows rescuers in a dark cave with "13 Hope Do not Give Up" written on their oxygen tanks. Another shows the silhouettes of 12 boys and one man against the stalactites of a cave with the words, "Stay strong, we'll come." Another is that the team rides a big boar and says, "Wild boars keep fighting."
Keeta, the teacher, said the popularity of his student song was a sign of the common purpose of the nation.
"It shows one thing, the Thai society, in difficult times we never give up," he said. "But it would be even better if the children were found."
Or when the Song of His Disciples ends: "Let Heaven show us the way and clean up / Let this group of friends pass that danger / Quick home for safety for all."
Kaweewit reported from Bangkok
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