Kyaw Thu, founder of the Rangoon Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS) and formerly a renowned actor, has been awarded the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Award.
The regional prize, dedicated to “honouring greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia”, was awarded to Kyaw Thu in recognition of his social work with FFSS.
“[Kyaw Thu] is being recognised for his generous compassion in addressing the fundamental needs of both the living and the dead in Myanmar — regardless of their class or religion — and his channeling personal fame and privilege to mobilize many others toward serving the greater social good,” a press release from the Ramon Magsaysay Award stated.
The former Myanmar Academy Award-winning actor founded the FFSS in 2001 to provide funeral services for impoverished families who could not afford the proper rites for their loved ones. Since then, the organisation has expanded to provide free health care, education and community support services to those in need, and has inspired many young people in Burma to take on charitable work.
Also receiving the award on Wednesday were Kommaly Chanthavong from Laos, Anshu Gupta and Sanjiv Chaturvedi from India, and Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa from the Philippines.