Los 33 Surviving on Faith Alone

Most of us know the pangs of hunger that come from missing a meal. But imagine missing breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for two weeks. And despite having enough food to fill your belly, you intentionally limit yourself to one teaspoon of tuna each day. Could you do it?

The 33 men trapped for more than two months in a mine near Copiapó, Chile, maintained this self-discipline despite being stuck more than 3 miles underground. “As a group we had to keep faith, we had to keep hope, we had to all believe that we would survive” says Franklin Lobos, one of the miners and a former professional footballer. “We pulled together when things got rough, when there was nothing. That really bonded us”.a After the dust settled from the mine's collapse, the men coalesced around hard-nosed shift supervisor Luis Urzúa, a mining veteran. To keep them focused on and participating in their own survival, Urzua divided Los 33, as they became known above ground, into three groups who split shifts maintaining the mine's nooks he designated as their sleeping, working, and washing areas.

“Life has given us a new challenge —to care more deeply, to be more present with the people we love.” —Edison Pena, one of “Los 33”b

Drawing on discipline learned in the Chilean military, Urzúa assigned more complex responsibilities as it became clear they would not be rescued immediately. Appropriating a pickup truck as his office, he led the men through topographically mapping their ...

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