Things didn’t go so well during the first 22 years.
Due to seasonal water shortages in their village, Ni Kung, his wife and children, along with 14 other families, decided to relocate. So they moved from the mountains of Chin State in 1984 to a lower elevation in order to pioneer a new village, which they named Cang Ai. There they cleared land, built simple bamboo homes, planted small vegetable gardens, and raised a few chickens and pigs. The stream from which they watered their gardens was half a mile away, but it flowed year round. Still, life was not easy, and when I first visited Cang Ai in 2006, only seven families remained in the village.
To reach those seven families, I had to follow an ox-cart path on a motor scooter, and upon my arrival, I remember being shaken by their dire poverty. It seemed they were just clinging to survival. I also remember, however, their spiritual vibrancy. Their love for Jesus showed.
I asked them what their greatest need was and, as a result, through gifts to the Village Development Fund, Heaven’s Family provided mosquito netting and several miles of 1-inch water pipe. The villagers buried that piping, linking a water source in the foothills with their village. When I returned the following year, I rejoiced with them to see several community faucets delivering water just outside their simple homes. With abundant water readily available, the villagers had planted larger gardens.
That was the beginning of Cang Ai’s renaissance. And founder Ni Kung was leading the way.
After taking four months of coursework at a distant hospital, Ni Kung had become certified to treat common rural sicknesses—but he had no medicines or tools. So Heaven’s Family funded the construction of a simple doctor’s office for him, which included a well-stocked pharmacy, a microscope for examining blood samples, and a blood pressure cuff. When I visited him this past December, Ni Kung told me that the most common disease he treats is malaria, and he has saved the lives of numerous people in Cang Ai and in the surrounding region. He also treats typhoid fever, influenza, dysentery, and vitamin deficiencies, all too common in rural Myanmar. By charging small, affordable fees for his services, his medical clinic is now self-sustaining.
Two years ago, Heaven’s Family also funded an irrigation project that required several miles of 6-inch water pipe and a concrete reservoir. As a result, significant quantities of water are now pouring into 25 acres the villagers have cleared for rice paddies. Their recent rice harvest—the first in 26 years—yielded over 15 tons of rice. Our irrigation project will facilitate twice-yearly harvests, and with a few adjustments in the hydro-engineering, the next harvest should be double the last one!
Because of these and other advancements over the past 6 years, people from the surrounding area have started relocating to Cang Ai Village. Today, 26 families—120 souls—call it home.