This I Believe

Michael - Arlington, Virginia
Entered on September 20, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: courage

I woke up on December 26, 2006, expecting a normal day of relaxation while on winter break. All I wanted to do was play with my new toys I had received for Christmas without worrying about anything else. Unfortunately, my day of leisure was not to be. Like most others, I read about the magnitude-9.3 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Though I felt sympathy for the victims, I had no strong emotions, because I believed there was no one I knew missing. My mom, however, knew that a family with whom we were friends was vacationing in Thailand at the time; we thought they had all perished. Fortunately, one ray of hope shone through: Zoë, a mere three-year-old, survived the tsunami. A strong resolve and will to survive can help to conquer the unthinkable. This, I believe.

The Shiu family, consisting of the two parents and their children, fourteen-year-old Nicholas, twelve-year-old Matthew, and three-year-old Zoë, was vacationing at a major international resort in Thailand. The parents kept a watchful eye from the beach on their kids, who were playing in the warm ocean water. Things were not quite normal, though. The tide was quickly receding away from the beach, leaving the normally underwater land as dry as the Thai sand itself. The parents motioned for the kids to return to the beach. Suddenly, as they arrived at the beach, the waves rushed towards them more forcefully than they had ever seen. Matthew grabbed Zoë’s hand as they lost their older brother and parents in the cascading water. They ran as fast as possible while the wall of water quickly advanced on them. Matthew led Zoë towards a bridge which was supposed to carry them to the safety of higher ground; their hearts sank as they found it crushed into millions of splinters. Facing the rising water, the children ran towards the resort, where they decided to jump over a concrete wall and into a swimming pool. As the water came over the wall and into the pool, Matthew’s grip loosened, and Zoë lost him. Through the pounding tsunami, Zoë found a floating cushion which she quickly climbed upon. She lay there for hours until an unsuspecting fisherman rescued her.

Other than a few minor cuts and scrapes, Zoë was relatively okay. Though the ocean had claimed her family, she eagerly told Thai reporters her inspirational story of survival in the face of unimaginable danger. The three-year-old girl survived the tsunami that had killed 250,000 people. The three-year-old girl still smiled. Even in the darkest of times, a strong will gives those who use it strength. This, I believe.