Kyaw Thu, the actor who offers free funeral services

Kyaw Thu from Myanmar receives the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as Asia's Nobel Prize, from former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.

Kyaw Thu, a prominent movie actor in Myanmar and who is known for his “Free Funeral Service Society,” is in the news.

He has been afflicted by the coronavirus disease.

“I was disconnected to the outside world, unable to view the trees and beautiful flowers, could not see the Sun, the Moon, could not see the fellow human beings, vehicles, buildings for nine days already,” he said in a Facebook post.

In 2001, with a colleague in the movie industry, Kyaw Thu founded the Free Funeral Service Society in Yangon to help relieve the emotional and financial burden of the poor when a loved one dies.

Caring not just for the dead but also for the living, the society opened a charity clinic manned by volunteer doctors and a full staff. 

With five ambulances and a 24-hour medical emergency response service, the clinic offers services from maternal and dental care to blood transfusions and eye surgeries.

Prominent actor Kyaw Thu of Myanmar poses for a photograph with staff of Radio Veritas Asia's Myanmar language service in Manila.

The society also mobilizes and provides humanitarian assistance to refugees, and to victims of war and natural disasters. 

The society’s services are freely available to all in need, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

To date, the society has undertaken over 150,000 free funeral services, and provided health care to over 143,000 patients since the clinic opened in 2007. 

Kyaw Thu was honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015.

The Award recognizes “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.” - RVA News