It took another full day to ride our motorcycles to yet another remote village in Chin State where Heaven’s Family’s Micro-Loan Fund is making a difference. I arrived at Cong Kua (pronounced Chung Qwah) with a sore neck and back that attracted the expertise of the village masseuse, who promptly pulverized my muscles for as long as I could stand it, which was about 30 minutes. Then we visited as many of Cong Kua’s Opportunity Loan benefactors as we could before the sun set over the distant mountains.
Unlike so many other villages in Chin State, Cong Kua’s citizens aren’t perennially engaged in cutting down forests in order to grow corn for a year. The hard-working residents have carved terraced gardens in the steep hillsides that surround their village, and they sell their produce at the larger town of Falam, 8 miles away. Twenty-five of the villages’ 63 families have received $100 loans earlier this year that they are using to grow cash crops such as onions, garlic, chili, beans, turmeric and so on.
Last night, the village elders gathered to discuss with me their need for a road from their village that would connect to another road that leads to Falam. The current steep jeep trail that leads from their village is unusable during the monsoon season, which means they can’t sell their produce 4 or 5 months of the year. A navigable road would change that.
They said that they could dig the road by hand with the help of hired laborers, so I encouraged them to do the math and determine the cost of the labor, the cost of a loan, and the expected increase in profits they’d realize with a road that would keep their markets open year round. They talked late into the night while I retired upstairs and, upon discovery of a cell phone signal, used my Myanmar cell phone to create a wireless hotspot which enabled me to text with my wife, Becky, on my laptop. It seemed miraculous to be communicating with her from the middle of nowhere!
Below are some photos of Cong Khua’s hard-working borrowers showing off some of their produce.