My name is Phu Murng. I was born in eastern Shan State, Union of Burma (Myanmar). I am the fourth in five children. Among my siblings, I have obtained the highest level of education. My siblings had to quit after primary and secondary school in order to support my family. After graduating from high school, I could not attend a university because my parents’ poverty ruled out further education. In fact, my parents were farmers; they were forced to sell rice to the military government at cheap prices and were sometimes used as forced labor.
In 2002, I moved to Thailand in search of knowledge and new opportunities. I learned as much as possible, studying English with volunteer teachers and attending specialized trainings in social justice and human rights. I successfully applied to journalism school, where I learned about reporting and global affairs.
Later, I worked with MAP Foundation, where I was responsible for helping migrant workers gain compensation for work-related accidents. I also worked with the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) as a paralegal coordinator and human rights educator.
My work with Burmese migrants in Thailand gave me many opportunities to help others. I assisted Nang Noom, for example, a construction worker who became disabled after a workplace accident. At the time, migrant workers were often denied compensation from the Social Security Office. The HRDF team and I assisted Nang Noom in claiming compensation from the SSO, which she received under the Thai Labor Act.
Another case involved Sai Jing Htun, a 17-year-old who died following a workplace accident. To claim compensation in Thailand, many documents were required, including the ID cards of his deceased parents. I returned to Burma to retrieve the documents and establish a power of attorney so a lawyer could act on his family’s behalf. Ultimately, a Thai judge awarded compensation to Sai Jing Htun’s family.
About Phu Murng
- Age: 39
- Ethnicity: Shan, Tai
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Chiang Mai University
- Master’s, Social Science
Goals & Dreams
- Become a social entrepreneur
- Serve as a Member of Parliament
- Return to Myanmar in order to contribute to its development
- Loan Amount: $7,725
- Amount Left To Fund: $5,800
- Contract Duration: 13 years
- Status: In Repayment
What Others Are Saying About Phu Murng
During this period, I was awarded the Sao Thusandi Young Leadership Award for my hard work and commitment to my community. But even while I was working, I longed to further my education in order to explore new ideas and broaden my mind.
In 2008, I applied for and was awarded a scholarship from Supplementary Grant Programme for Asia (SGPA), which was administered by Thabyay Education Foundation. I enrolled in an International Affairs program at Khon Kaen University International College before transferring to Rangsit University, where I completed a program in International Relations and Development in 2013.
At Chiang Mai University, where I’m pursuing a master’s degree in development, I was granted a partial scholarship covering tuition fees for the entire program. Unfortunately, I do not have money for living expenses such as food, accommodation, books, and transportation for field research. My parents are getting old and are poor, so they cannot support me. With a loan from Zomia, I can further my studies and make my dream of earning a master’s degree come true.
Written by Phu Murng with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“I believe education is fundamental to all forms of development.”