PSHF (Philippines Self Help Fund) is a mission that St John’s help to support through regular donations. Richard Foster heads this mission and provides us with newsletters of projects which our donations have helped towards, thanks to the contributions that you have all made to our weekly collections or the planned giving scheme.
Our latest project:
Paquito and Arcelita Belonghilot, both in their early 50’s, are farm labourers on sugarcane plantations. They live in the hillside barangay of St.Niño with their two youngest children Richelle (15) and Rachel Ann (11). Their other six children are married and living separately. The Belonghilot couple are the owners of one hectare of land on which they grow corn intercropped with sugarcane. They were also the owners of a separate hectare of land but they had to pawn it in August 2020 when Analie, their daughter in law had a miscarriage resulting in hospital expenses to pay. Thankfully, Analie has recovered physically though she continues to grieve the baby she lost.
In December 2019, Arcelita and her daughter in law, Mary Phine were assisted with a farming loan to have their respective farms ploughed and planted with corn. The loan was fully repaid on time and now Arcelita is applying for a new loan independently. She is keen to redeem the land that she pawned in August last year and she will use part of the loan (30,000 pesos) to do so. The balance of the loan will be used to purchase ten sacks of fertiliser for the sugarcane and corn crops. Arcelita and Paquito will not need to hire labourers on their farm as all their children including the young ones are eager to help their parents. The work on the family farm is done at weekends when there are no other work commitments. This is a happy time of bonding among all the family members.
The land which the family will be redeeming was harvested just last month but the sugarcane points remain so there will be no need to replant. The family’s plan is to intercrop the sugarcane with corn as they are doing with their other piece of land. Corn is harvested twice a year and the growing period for sugarcane is ten months. Arcelita and Paquito plan to have their corn milled and kept for home consumption as an alternative to rice. As for the sugarcane, it should be ready for harvesting on both plots by early 2022. They are hoping to make a net income of 50,000 pesos (€860) from the sale of their sugarcane. Life for the Belonghilot family has improved dramatically since Arcelita received that first loan from the PSHF in 2019. Until then, they had been buying rice whereas now they are self sufficient in corn rice. This means that their wages of 150 pesos (€2.60) each from their day labour jobs can now be put to other uses as well as food. Arcelita and Paquito are particularly keen to have their two youngest children complete their high school education so some extra income can be saved for their fares when the pandemic ends and regular classes resume.