My head, and that of my husband, Jody, might have ended up suspended on a giant tree in Myanmar—if, that is, we had visited Ngai Zam Village a couple hundred years ago. Back then, villagers hung the heads of their enemies on a giant, now-800-year-old tree as an unmistakeable “don’t mess with us” warning. Thankfully, in 1937, a brave missionary reached Ngai Zam with the gospel (and kept his head intact), and we were coming as friends to visit a girl named Cung Thian Kim, a former “orphan” now reunited with her family.
Reaching Ngai Zam required that we venture into the remote, mysterious mountains of Chin State on motorbikes, an arduous adventure in the best of conditions. But the journey was made much more demanding—and dangerous—by relentless rain that soaked us and muddied the dirt roads and trails we traveled for 3 hours.
We finally arrived in Ngai Zam, very wet and weary, but grateful for the warm reception we received from the villagers, who all turned out to shake our hands. Their faces beamed with gratitude, and for good reason.
Orphan’s Tear has been working hard over the past few years to help orphanages and foster families become self-supporting. And when we learned that many children in orphanages are not orphans, but actually children sent by their poor village parents to city orphanages that provide children’s education, we knew we had to do something to reverse this anti-family trend.
Our Kinship Care Initiative was created to address the problem. One of the initiative’s strategies is to provide micro-loans to village families so they can start small businesses or grow cash crops. The consequent boost in the village economy makes it possible for parents to afford to send their children to nearby schools (if any exist), or for their village to hire a teacher and open their own school. That way parents can keep their children living at home as God intended.
Although a school existed near the home of Cung Thian Kim’s family, her parents were too poor to afford the tuition, so they sent her to an orphanage 600 miles away in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, in 2010. Thanks, however, to a $2,500 loan to Ngai Zam Village almost one year ago, the hard work of Cung Thian Kim’s parents who took advantage of the opportunity, and those around the world who gave to Orphan’s Tear, Cung Thian Kim was able to return home to her family.
Now Cung Thian Kim is attending a good boarding school nearby and lives with her family every weekend. She said “I was so happy to be home again. I missed my family so much.”