Melboy and Freda, both in their 20’s, live in Barangay Sto. Niño, an upland barangay of Tanjay City in Negros Oriental province. The two have been married for seven years, and they have four children, two sets of twin girls, six year olds - Chloe and Claire, and 10-month-old twins Savanna and Sabrinna. The joy the births gave the couple was tempered by the costs; both times, Freda gave birth by caesarian section, and to obtain funds to pay the hospital expenses and medication Freda needed, Melboy had to pawn his share of his parents’ farm area.
Four months after the birth of the two youngest, Freda could no longer produce milk to breastfeed them so the couple had to buy formula milk. Fortunately, Melboy’s elder siblings and parents helped the couple to purchase milk as Melboy did not have any money.
Melboy struggles to earn a living; he does weeding on farms or sometimes works as a construction laborer on a road concreting project in his area. He makes a combined income of 800 pesos ($16) a week. With four young dependents, Melboy’s income barely covers his family’s daily needs.
It was fortunate that Helma, a neighbour of the Bacornay couple told them about a PSHF orientation to be held in their barrio in February and they both attended. Both Melboy and Freda attended the orientation and they were delighted to learn that Melboy could apply for a loan to redeem the one-hectare field, which he had pawned when Freda gave birth in November 2021.
Melboy wants to cultivate his area and plant it with various crops such as sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and cassava. Melboy prefers these crops as they are not difficult to grow and do not need too much attention after planting. Furthermore, these crops are easy to sell, not just in the neighborhood but also with vendors in the public market. Melboy hopes to harvest his first crop of corn and sweet potatoes in October and his bananas and cassavas in a year’s time. He will keep a small portion of harvests for home consumption and sell the rest giving him a potential annual income of 35,000 pesos ($700). He and Freda are excited about the prospects for their farm and we wish them every success.
Winelin De La Cruz and Ireen Ingles
PSHF Negros Oriental