Funeral charity forced to close down offices

Nov 18, 2008 (DVB), The Free Funeral Service Society has been ordered to move out of its current offices in Rangoon and in Saku township, Magwe division, by local authorities.

Kyaw Thu, an academy award-winning actor and vice president of the FFSS, said the organisation had been ordered to move out of its main office and free clinic which are currently located in Rangoon’s Thingangyun township.

The order came from the government’s Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development which claimed the land where the office was built was preserved for Sasana society, Kyaw Thu said.

"The monastery which owned the land wanted to expend their building as they have more monks staying there now," said Kyaw Thu.

"We were told we are not allowed to set up office buildings like ours in this location."

The FFSS building will now be relocated to Ba Htoo road in the northern part of Dagon township.

"The land preserved for our new building is actually a plastic garbage dump which goes deep into the ground – about seven or eight feet," Kyaw Thu said.

"We are going to have to set up pole foundations first in order to start the construction and that is going to be costly," he said.

"We would need some donations to do that as the current budget we have is only meant to be used for free funeral services."

Kyaw Thu added that more families in Rangoon had been seeking the group’s assistance in funeral services due to financial hardship.

"Now we are giving assistance for about 50 funeral services a day," he said.

Meanwhile, locals in Magwe division’s Minbu province said the FFSS branch in Saku township founded by local youths less than a year ago had been disbanded due to pressure from the provincial Peace and Development Council.

"Saku’s FFSS project was founded by local youths less than a year ago and they were given permission by the authorities in the beginning," said one Minbu resident.

"But recently the authorities began to pressure them to stop their activities so they had to disband."

The local resident said the FFSS in Saku had started out with only a cart to carry the bodies to funerals but it has now managed to buy a hearse with the donations it received as its work became better known among locals.

"It was really useful for poor people who couldn’t afford the funeral expenses for their loved ones and now locals are really disappointed to see it go," he resident said.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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