This morning we had a visit from Kyaw Thu, who was jointly awarded the NED Democracy award with Dr Cynthia Maung in Washington DC last year.
Kyaw Thu is a two-time Myanmar Academy Award winning film director and actor, as well as founder and president of the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), which, since 2001, has provided free funeral services to more than 110,000 people across Burma. In addition, FFSS operates a free clinic for the poor, supports scholarships, organizes vocational and computer trainings, and helps to meet the health needs of former political prisoners. A leading man in Burmese cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, Kyaw Thu gradually turned his attention to social work, and by serving as volunteer president of FFSS, became one of the most prominent members of Burma’s civil society. In 2007, he and his wife were arrested after publicly supporting the Saffron Revolution, after which he was banned from the film industry. After his release, Kyaw Thu and FFSS played a vital role in rescue and fundraising efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Burma’s Irrawaddy delta and cost over 130,000 lives in May 2008. (Profile courtesy of NED)