Maria Belon
How Maria Belon survived the tsunami and became an icon of resilience and service. Learn how to take on the impossible challenge with her.

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The Event:

On the serene morning of December 26, 2004, the Belon-Alvarez family consisting of Maria, her husband Enrique, and their three sons 10-year-old  Lucas, 8-year-old Tomas, and 5-year-old Simon were enjoying a vacation at the Orchid Beach Resort in Khao Lak, Thailand. It was the third day of their relaxing vacation but little did Maria know that this day would become the genesis of a transformative journey for her and her family.

It was bright and early in the morning. Maria was relaxing on the poolside while her husband and three sons were enjoying the pool in front. At 7:59 AM the earth shook violently heralding a catastrophic earthquake of 9.1 magnitude off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. This created a huge Tsunami with colossal waves, shattering everything on the way in an instant. 

The Survival:

Everyone from the Belon-Alvarez family got separated in different directions transforming a paradise into a nightmare in a split second. After the wave hit, she was able to grab hold of a tree while being swept away underwater. It took Maria nearly three minutes to breathe again. 

Still panting, she notices a familiar face being dragged by the current. It was her eldest son Lucus. Instantly, she follows him but gets severely injuried by debris from another huge wave. However, she somehow manages to reach Lucas and take refuge in another tree before being rescued by locals from a nearby village. 

Enrique finds a way to escape death and soon finds Tomas and Simon hanging on to different trees. Soon the family finally comes together but a new trouble resurfaces. Maria undergoes an operation to get treated for critical injuries to her chest and thigh. It takes 4 months for Maria to make a full recovery and walk without pain again.

The Transformation:

Most people will put such harrowing experience behind them by forgetting the place of the incident altogether. However, Maria and her family were different. They choose to go back to the place where it all began and dedicated themselves to rebuilding it again.

The entire community came together and working hard to make the place livable again. The experience transforms Maria into an advocate for disaster relief and trauma recovery, inspiring countless others.

The Lesson:

We can think Maria and her family were unlucky to be in that island on that day but given that the Boxing Day Tsunami killed 230,000 lives, they were extremely lucky to escape death. However, what makes Maria and her family special is that they choose to count on their blessings to come back and serve the community where the nightmare began. This may seem like an impossible choice to make but with the right perspective, it is possible. 

I have been studying Maria and people like her who are on brave journey showing us how we too can make the most of the luck we have today to take on what we think is impossible to us. If you feel you are ready and excited to go after goals you think are impossible, hit reply and let me know. I will share more about the Impossible Challenge.

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