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Uncertainty remains for the stateless as boys rescued from Thai cave return home

Thai cave survivors back with families
"It was dark and quite scary": Thai cave survivors speak on first full day with families 03:45

A smile lit up the face of 11-year-old Titan -- finally back at home and surrounded by family after more than two weeks trapped inside a cave in Thailand. Titan, along with 11 other boys who were rescued last week with their coach, spent their first day out of the hospital doing some of their favorite things: playing soccer and spending time with their families. 

It was a day many of their parents feared they would never see. 

Titan told CBS News' Anna Werner it was "dark and quite scary" inside the cave -- scary for his father, Tanawut, too. Earlier this week, he told CBS News, after the rescue, that he just wants a normal life for his son.

Eleven-year-old Titan (center) at home with his family following the cave rescue. CBS News

What helped Titan get through the ordeal? Having his coach by his side. 

At a news conference Wednesday, the boys' 25-year-old soccer coach, nicknamed Ake, described keeping the group calm in the cave by assuring the boys that people would be looking for them. 

When they were finally found, 14-year-old Adul helped the group communicate with their English-speaking rescuers. 

"He is the future leader of the church in here for the next generation," said Go Shin Maung, the pastor of the church where Adul has lived for almost 10 years. He is also the person who helped Adul learn English -- a skill that proved crucial in communicating with the British divers who discovered the soccer team inside the cave.

Fourteen-year-old Adul with members of the church where he's lived for the past 10 years. CBS News

Adul's life was difficult even before the cave incident. He is stateless, not a citizen of Thailand or any other country. Nearly a decade ago, his parents slipped him out of Myanmar and into Thailand to escape ethnic conflicts. They are still in Myanmar.   

Coach Ake and two other boys who were in the cave are also stateless. 

To some extent, the boys are now celebrities in Thailand. But whether they will get citizenship is unclear, and their futures are uncertain.  

One of the first things Adul did when he arrived back at the church where he lives was eat his favorite food, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Despite what he's faced, Adul is surrounded by people who love him, and he's grateful.

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