|Pastor Chang A Cang of the Protestant Society of Ta Phin gives a sermon. — Photo Vuong Anh
by Khanh Chi
LAO CAI (VNS) — Chang A Cang, a pastor, is working hard to start up a 370-tree artichoke garden in Ta Phin Commune in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai.
As the head of the Ta Phin Protestant Society, Cang hopes to set an example of sound entrepreneurship for the nearly 400 members of the church in the commune. The new project will add to his existing farm, which includes peach trees, orchids, and hundreds of pigs and goats.
Seventy-one out of 500 households in Ta Phin Commune are Protestant, according to statistics from the commune's People's Committee.
Cang, 29, converted to Protestantism in 2005 when the religion first appeared in the region. He was appointed head of the Protestant Society seven years later.
"I read in the Protestant Bible that if you believe in God, you won't be poverty-stricken," Cang said during a break from his Sunday preaching session. "Thus, I started my own business, step by step. Of course it was hard at the beginning, but I managed to overcome the difficulties and become self-sufficient."
Cang said he helped other Protestants in the commune earn a living, as well.
Following Cang's example, Vang A Chao, a 71-year-old commune resident, has succeeded in his own business endeavor.
"I feel whatever I do – growing flowers, raising buffaloes, doing farming work, and so on – can earn me a profit," said Chao, a father of 10.
Chao speaks modestly about his orchid garden, but he earned VND60 million (US$2,900) last year selling around 400 potted orchids.
"I feel that I have someone and something to believe in," he said. "Previously, I never listened whenever people told me to do this or that. Now I'm never drunk, and I never quarrel. When I started focusing on my business, I started earning a living."
Cang started an orchid garden as a community project some years ago. The religious society's youth manage it now.
"To start the project, we called on young people to chip in between VND100,000 and 200,000 (US$5 to 10) to buy the roots and set up the garden," Cang said. "After two years, we harvested the first crop and we spent all the earnings on buying a buffalo and a cow to scale up our farming. In this way, we breed plants and animals to raise funds for community activities and help underprivileged people improve their living conditions."
Young members of the church tour the area annually, fixing housing facilities in disrepair and checking households' living conditions.
This year the society donated funds to build several new concrete houses for low-income families and install 72 toilets. Cang also donated goats to six families.
"These six goats have given birth to 13, which were given to other families," he said. "In this way, I'd like to provide a means of livelihood." — VNS