In June and July 2018, the world watched with bated breath as a multinational rescue team fought to extract 12 young members of a football team and their coach from a deep, flooded cave system called Tham Luang Nang Non in Chiang Rai province, Thailand. All of those trapped were eventually brought out alive.
Thai officials and the international rescue team received much attention for their efforts in this successful operation. However, many local people also contributed to the rescue operation and/or were affected by it, including over 100 small-holder rice farmers whose crops were flooded and destroyed as part of urgent measures to clear water from the cave system. These farmers were offered compensation, but amazingly, 19 of them refused any compensation or media focus. Of the 19 farmers who chose to remain independent in their attempts to rebuild their lives, two farmers specifically ventured into an innovative enterprise of sorts—the cultivation and business of Kor Kor 43, a low-GI rice variety, which needs a certain level of water to grow successfully and yields crop growth only twice annually.
Eighteen months later, Chintana Sandilands delves into how these local farmers view the cave incident and its effects on their own lives.
This research project will look at the effects of an internationally prominent incident on a small community, with particular attention to the way the event affected the villagers' spiritual world, social relations, and relationships with government and outsiders.
Watch this space in the future for updates on Chintana’s progress, as we continue with her on her journey to unravel the many different layers of Thai culture, society and heritage.
By Chintana Sandilands