Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng, Myanmar's famed kneeling nun and a global icon of peace, has served the poor regardless of faith. She has stood up for the truth, and fought for justice.
The nun, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier Congregation, has worked in a clinic named "Ma li gin dai" in the diocese of Myitkyina, Myanmar, at the back of Aung Nann’s Catholic Church.
For 16 years, the clinic has welcomed and helped people of all races and religions, helping the poorest of the poor, refugees from war, and people who need help with their health.
Among the volunteers is the nun who made news when she kneeled in front of military and police personnel in Kachin state and pleaded with them not to shoot demonstrators on February 28, 2021.
Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng has been the clinic's director since 2015.
"We have been visiting the war refugees’ camps. Donors provide medicine, and we give health checks and basic health awareness programs,” Sister Ann Rose told RVA News.
The nun and her team also care for children at boarding schools and orphanages and free check-ups for the elderly.
When Typhoon Nargis hit Myanmar on May 3, 2008, she traveled to remote villages and stayed for a month to help those affected.
“As for me, wherever I am assigned, my role is to take care of the sick people and teach subjects from the school’s curriculum, such as catechism, and be a midwife if I am in the villages. Still, when I am in the cities, I bring the sick to hospitals when they are in an emergency,” Sister Ann Rose said.
The 45-year-old nun adds, "I am happy that I can serve God with the gifts He has given me. Of course, wherever I am assigned, I am serving people regardless of their race and religion. As a nun, I cannot offer any cash but the love and strength that Jesus gives me. "
Sister Ann Rose also shared her experiences when Myanmar was not spared from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the Covid-19 cases surged, I needed to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). "It is a bit difficult for me to wear those dresses as a nun," she recalls.
Sister Ann Rose credits Jesus with giving her the strength to serve. Despite the hardships, she is thankful to God for the opportunity to serve others.
Because of the political situation in Myanmar, it is not safe for them to go on their medical mission in different places that need periodic medical assistance.
Sometimes, the military makes a surprise inspection and takes photos of the clinic and their patients' medical records. The clinic's other nurses are concerned about the nun’s safety.
She recalls how soldiers and police came to the clinic a few months ago and asked if they treated the youth who got injured in fighting with the soldiers.
Sister Ann Rose believes the authorities are out to get her because she defends the people.
Regardless of ethnic origin or religion, anyone is eligible to receive free health care at the clinic if they are genuinely impoverished. After their checkups, those who can afford can donate in whatever form to the clinic. Patients traveling from remote areas can stay overnight at the clinic.
If a patient or family members have difficulty getting there, the clinic will connect them with an organization that can assist them.
After attracting the attention of the local and international media in February 2021, Sister Ann Rose became a well-known Catholic nun in Myanmar. She stood up for the truth and fought for the people's justice.
In 2021, the BBC named her one of the world's 100 most inspirational and influential women. -With inputs by Pinky Thiri Kyaw and Sharr Lunn Mel
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.