Siang Ngun is proud of what her hard work has accomplished, and she loves to show off the fruit of her labors, literally. Siang cultivates organically-grown guava fruit. Her secret to growing guava without pesticides? Siang ties immature fruit in small, quart-size plastic shopping bags, keeping out insects and birds.
Siang hasn’t always been the resourceful farmer she is today. Following her husband’s unexpected death in 1993, Siang did what most poor widows in poor nations do who lack marketable skills—she became a seasonal field laborer for local farmers. Making less than fifty cents a day, Siang barely survived—but she learned some farming skills that would one day be of benefit.
It was some years later when Siang’s niece and her niece’s husband purchased an acre of land that had been used to grow roses. In their generosity, they let Siang work the little farm and live onsite in a one-room bamboo shelter.
Siang made the decision to remove the old rose bushes and plant guava fruit trees, which she believed would be more profitable in the long run. She also decided to produce the fruit organically, believing organic methods would be better for everyone.
Once her trees matured sufficiently to produce fruit, Siang discovered that seasonal dry spells limited her yields. She knew that a dependable water source and an irrigation system could provide a solution, but she could afford neither.
It was not too long afterwards that she met Peter Cung, a Heaven’s Family national missionary and micro-banker. Peter listened to her dream, helped her develop a business plan, and loaned her $375. She used the funds to install a well from which she could draw all the water she would need to water her fruit trees.
Siang experienced better yields and faithfully repaid her loan, and Peter extended a second loan to her last year. With that loan she purchased an electric generator and pump for her long-awaited irrigation system. She paid off that loan at the beginning of this year. Siang’s entrepreneurial spirit won’t rest, however, and she is now hoping to receive a third loan so that she can improve the drainage of her field, which sometimes floods during Myanmar’s monsoon season, and also start a chicken farm.
Using both her green thumb and green mind, Siang hopes that her fruit orchard will become a model of eco-farming, so that others will understand how organic farming can benefit everyone. She is another example of how very poor widows can succeed when given an opportunity. Thanks to gifts to the Widows & Abandoned Women Fund, we’re seeing many widows blossom and bear fruit beyond what anyone could have imagined.