Chin State’s First Ever University to Build Chapel on Campus
The recently upgraded Hakha University, the first ever government’s higher academic institution in Chin State, will soon have its own religious worship center after a building foundation was laid to construct a chapel on its campus on Thursday, May 6.
The corner-stone was laid by Pro-Rector of Hakha University Dr. Lian Za Khup jointly with Rev. Dr. Stephen Lian Hup Ling, General Secretary of Hakha Christian Ministers’ Fellowship (HCMF), which jointly undertakes fundraising responsibility for the construction of the chapel. Independently initiated by the university faculty, the construction is estimated to cost 150 million Kyats (About 115,000 USD), which will be supported entirely through private donations.
“We are very pleased to have donation pledges from local multi-denominational churches in Hakha under the leadership of HCMF. So far we have managed to secure 25 million Kyats in funding pledges from these local churches,” says Pro-Rector Dr. Lian Za Khup, who also appeals for donations from Chin churches and communities in diasporas in Australia, Europe and North America.
As you can see, we are still a long way off to meeting our fundraising target and we will especially need the generosity of our fellow Chin people living and working abroad.Dr. Lian Za Khup, Pro-Rector of Hakha University
The land for the chapel building was donated by the University, which boasts a sprawling 524-acre campus in the western suburb of the Chin State capital. Perching on top of a picturesque scenic ridge surrounded by pine trees and overlooking a nine-hole grassy golf course and a small steam, the campus was inaugurated as the first government’s higher learning institution in Burma’s least developed state in late 2016. It now hosts over 1000 full-time and about 800 distance education students from all over Chin State. It has a faculty consisting of 10 different Arts and Science academic disciplines with a Technological and Computer Science programs attached to the university.
The construction has been contracted to a local construction firm Rung Family Company, which has agreed to build a 107-60 feet steel-reinforced concrete structure for the total cost of 150 million Kyats. The company will be reimbursed when the joint faculty-HCMF fundraising effort has met its target.
It is learned that Sr. General Min Aung Hlaing has donated 1000 bags of cement and 526 sheets of tin roofing plates towards the construction, drawing mixed reactions from the Chin public. Some described the donation as a “double-edged sword,” referring to the fact Chin Christians are persecuted on the one hand and given donation on the other. Others say it was a smart exploit executed by the Hakha Elders, who put forward the proposal for support for the construction of the chapel during a public meeting with the Army Chief in Hakha.
“As you can see, we are still a long way off to meeting our fundraising target and we will especially need the generosity of our fellow Chin people living and working abroad,” stresses Dr. Lian Za Khup, who wants to see the project completed during his tenure at the university before he retires in a couple of years. “It is my wish to see through the completion of this project in my remaining time here as you don’t know who my next replacement will be and if the person would even be interested in carrying forward the project at all,” says the Tonzang native who is the second ethnic Chin to be appointed to Pro-Rector at the university since it first opened in 2016 as the Hakha College.
Asked whether or not the university ever obtained official permission from the Department of Religious Affairs for the construction, the Pro-Rector said it was all done unofficially since it is common understanding that going through the proper bureaucratic procedure would never result in approval. “We never went to the Department of Religious Affairs, but we did obtain a verbal go-ahead from the Union Minister of Education during his visit to Hakha, which was also sort of reaffirmed by the Vice President II during his visit to our campus recently,” he said.