Zomi-Chin Service is the dream of Zomi-Chin speaking communities of North East India and Chin State of Myanmar (Burma) which really came true. The initiator was Radio Veritas Asia itself. Fr. John Sulya of Hindi Service way back in 1993, happened to meet Fr. Mark Thang Khan Ai at East Asian Pastoral Institute during a dinner party and motivated him to apply for a new language slot for the Zomi-Chin speaking communities of India and Myanmar. Fr. Mark lost no time in contacting Ms. Erlinda So, the then Program Director of RVA. Along with the Burmese and Hindi services staff, she proffered a typical RVA hospitality to Fr. Mark and took him for a guided tour of the magnificent premises of RVA. She summarily handed him some written directives. Another Zomi-Chin priest, Fr. John Omse, also happened to be in Manila doing his scriptural studies. Fr. Mark teamed up with him and together, they wrote a formal letter of application for a Zomi-Chin slot and handed the letter to Ms. Erlinda So on 06 May, 1993.
Soon after, the two priests left for their respective dioceses. Fr. Mark, in a course of two years was able to furnish all the required information to RVA management. Except for the joint application, Fr. John Omse never got involved again in following up the application. The good news of the inclusion of the service came in July 1996.
The first ever Zomi-Chin Service was aired on 06 August, 1996 as once-a-week broadcast on Mondays with a repeat on Tuesdays at 9.00 PM (IST). The management bought the programs at the rate of US$50 per program. It became a four-times-a-week broadcast in 1998. In August 2000, Fr. Mark was invited to attend the Program Planning Seminar at RVA Headquarters during which he presented the latest profile of Zomi-Chin Service and in particular highlighted the response of the audience by unpacking 4000 letters from listeners. He assured the management that the service is ready for daily broadcast with the help of his team back home. From July 17, 2003 on Zomi-Chin Service was upgraded to the status of a daily service. The listeners were delighted beyond measure. As required by the management, listeners’ letters were sent to RVA Headquarters. The first four years of broadcast witnessed an average of 4000 hand written letters per year.
Key architects of Zomi-Chin Service
Ms. Erlinda So
It was Ms. Erlinda So who opened wide the doors of RVA way back in May 1994 for Zomi-Chin Service to enter for the first time. The two years of romance between RVA and Fr. Mark Thang Khan Ai finally bore fruits on 06 August, 1996 with the airing of the first program which lasted for 27 minutes. We are deeply indebted to her for her encouragement and support at all levels.
Fr.John Sulya, SVD
Fr. John Sulya and Fr. Mark met during a dinner party at East Asian Pastoral Institute in April 1994. After a brief introduction, Fr. John encouraged Fr. Mark with this simple words: “You can apply for your language service as RVA is always looking forward to more ethnic languages on air.” Thanks to this unassuming SVD priest who encouraged Fr. Mark to initiate the service.
She used to be called the ‘Mother of Zomi-Chin Service’ because of her involvement with the service since it became four-times-a-week service. All guidance came from her office until the past three years. She had been most patient with us all through the growth of the service. We are indebted to her for her consistent support.
Richy Matamis is the ‘New Kid in Town’ of Zomi-Chin Service as one who came among a long line of in-charges who corresponded with us since the decentralization plan of RVA. All pertinent information about our service comes from her desk. Like Lynlin Bautista, she too had been very consistent in her correspondences and passes us relevant information on time. She makes also all the payment proposals most promptly.
Fr. Gabriel Htun Myint
Fr .Gabriel, the present Program Director, came in the limelight as preparations were on for decentralization of seven languages service. With the drastic cut of allowance to an all time low of US$ 27 per program, we were about to wind up the service. But then, Fr. Gabriel stood by our side and through a series of hot exchanges of e-mails, he was able to convince us to carry on the service and finally announced the uniformity cut at US$ 40 per program.. We are grateful to him for his timely support and information pertaining to Zomi-Chin Service.
Archbishop Joseph Mittathany, D.D, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Imphal, India
When Fr. Mark returned from the Philippines in December 1994, he unpacked his broadcast vision to then bishop, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mittathany. He was most opened to the idea and immediately placed him as Program co-ordinator at the Pastoral Audio-visual Centre of the diocese. With his blessing and encouragement Fr. Mark formed a tiny team of three lay persons to assist him.
The first lay man whom Fr. Mark spotted to assist him was Mr. Lawrence Suonmeng. Prior to joining Zomi-Chin Service, he had made his debut as a popular composer, singer, volleyball player and a heart throb among girls for his talents and good looks. After a brief sound engineering orientation, he plunged himself headlong into the work and still is active as Program Executive. He produces albums, writes and sings devotional and patriotic songs for the program and edits programs on a daily basis. He is the production backbone of the service. At the service level he is the co-founder of the service at this end.
Archbishop Dominic Lumon, D.D, Archbishop of Imphal
When he took up the reins of the diocese upon the retirement of Most Rev. Joseph Mittathany, Archbishop Dominic Lumon proffered the same support as did Most Rev. Joseph Mittathany. He could be seen at intervals peeping into the office and throwing a word or two of paternal support. He himself being a trained hand in media, is highly appreciative of the presence of Zomi-Chin Service in the Archdiocese of Imphal. At least once he lamented that the entire archdiocese is not able to benefit from the service as the non-Zomi-Chin speaking communities of the archdiocese cannot understand the language. He is well informed of the listeners in the dioceses of Hakha and Kalay in Chin State of Myanmar.