Cave Boy Who Speaks English
When 2 British cave rescue experts found 12 boys and their coach deep inside underground cave, Tham Luang Nang Non near Thai-Myanmar border town of Mae Sai in northern Chiang Rai province, British rescuer asked them in English, ‘How many of you?’ Very soon one boy’s clear English answer followed, ‘Thirteen!’
Now, global audience and readers of this breaking news might consider this conversation taken place in English insignificant as English is global language and many Asian children now speak some level of English as result of heavy emphasis on education in particular taking 2nd language lessons. This is very true although still limited in metropolitan cities and main cities where native English speaking teachers are available.
11 Cave boys are from small village of Mae Sai in Chiang Rai Province of Thailand, 11 boys are pupils of same school and 1 boy is from Ban Wiangpan School. This boy’s name is Adool Samorn. He is a pupil of English teacher, Mr. Pirayat Yodsuwan.
Adool is the only boy in the group who does not hold Thai citizenship although he lived in Thailand more than half of his life. He was born in Myanmar. He is from poor Akha Hilltribe people groups of Myanmar’s southern eastern border with Thailand. Many children from these hilltribe people groups are sent to Thailand as refugees. Parents send them to charity organisation in hopes of getting better education and future.
In many border towns, Thailand is a host of many such refugees. Adool was sent to Mai Sai as a 7 years old to a Thai Christian Orphanage, Mae Sai Hope Grace Orphanage and grew up there. Local Christian community took care for such children from poverty stricken border towns of neighbouring nation. He attends Burmese language church group since he arrived in Thailand.
I was intrigued by the level of this particular cave boy’s English that he communicated with 2 British men on behalf of other friends as well and reported in clear English their situation when found for the first time.
How did he learn English in this remote village? With no hesitation, he understood the question and also was able to answer in comprehensible English.
News reports did not indicate whether this boy is a Christian or not. They didn’t even mention he is not a Thai. His orphanage and church groups are present at the entrance of cave to praise and sing hymns and pray each day. Not many newspaper and journalists reported this either.
There are many people must have rejoiced finding out that he was from most unprivileged background yet was able to communicate with foreigner whom he might have seen for the first time in his life. One of them is his school’s English teacher, Mr. Piyarat Yodsuwan. He was extremely proud and thrilled to hear about this first English conversation took place between his own student and native English speakers when they were found for the first time.
Then, it struck me with other thoughts. How these Christians in Mae Sai have become believers at first place. How did Orphanage set up there? Did this cave boy have previous encounters with any foreigners at orphanage? Who would have come to this remote place of jungle either for a short visit or for long term?
As a result of someone’s hard work, there are presence of Christians in this place and they take care of people in need even from neighbouring nations.
We lift up our thoughts, hearts and mind for these boys each day. We hope that Adool’s L will deliver him and his dear friends and the coach from the cave as HE delivered other boys from Lion’s den in other time.