Maung John Zar Ring Thang undertook a Master’s of Theology in 2008 at St Vincent School of Theology in the Philippines. Upon graduation, he was confronted by the biggest natural disaster to have threatened Myanmar in many years, Cyclone Nargis.
In early May 2008 Cyclone Nargis hit the coast of Myanmar, creating a storm surge which travelled 40 kilometres up the Irrawaddy delta, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities.
Maung John returned immediately to Myanmar, and began volunteering for a natural disaster relief project overseen by Caritas Myanmar, to support the communities most affected by the Cyclone. Motivated by his experiences, and by the ongoing need which he saw in the Chin State, he went on to create the Agency for Basic Community Development (ABC).
Maung John told us: “With the experiences I got from the disaster relief program, I decided to form a civil society group for the Chin State which remains the least developed area in Myanmar, with a handful of local NGOs there. Since 2010, ABC has been working on social promotion, civic education and capacity development of local Civil Society Organizations in the Chin State.”
ABC works with small community groups to offer impartial small-scale assistance supporting the development of areas which they identify as basic needs, hydraulic needs and civic educational needs. Though informed by Maung John’s Catholic faith, ABC collaborates with a range of humanitarian and development organizations in order to build a just, peaceful, and humane society. In order to reach some of the most underserved groups of people in the country, ABC works alongside grassroots organisations to support development in remote areas.
In 2017 ABC continues to grow and Maung John is positive about their future. He is particularly proud of a project to build a disaster risk reduction network for the Chinland community.
He told me “The vision of our organization is “to live life in its fullness” through the enlightenment, empowerment and transformation of society… The Prospect Burma scholarship helps me to actualize my potential.”
Despite the many challenges that continue to face Myanmar, the dedication of our returning Alumni like Maung John Zar Ring Thang continues to inspire and to shape the future of the country.
To find out more visit www.abcmm.org
Maung John in the Chin State
Attending the migration forum
In the Tonzang Township, Chin State