Student Portrait

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: 43
  • Ethnicity: Shan, Tai
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Chiang Mai University
  • Master’s, Social Science
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become a social entrepreneur
  • Serve as a Member of Parliament
  • Return to Myanmar in order to contribute to its development

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $7,725
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 13 years
  • Status: In Repayment (Late 30)


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.

Phu Murng

Phu Murng

“I believe education is fundamental to all forms of development.”

Q&A With Phu Murng

Survey Fun

As Burma opens up after a half-century of military rule, the country needs skilled human resources. I believe I can be among those who contribute to the country’s development and put it back on the right track.

What is your favorite memory?
University life as an undergraduate
How would your friends describe you?
Outgoing, smart and having leadership skills
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Human relations (i.e., how to treat to each other in a good manner)
Where would you most like to travel?
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Beef steak with red wine
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
Singing and playing guitar
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Drinking local moonshine that was fermented with wild animals
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
A successful entrepreneur and active in social work