Church of England's Diocese in Europe


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Micandro Q. Echavez (26), his wife Vaishya (21), and their one-year-old son Mike Andrew live with Vaishya’s parents and siblings in the hills of Barangay San Jose, about three kilometres off the main road leading to the town of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental. Once a week, Micandro visits his own parents and siblings in the mountains of barangay Talalak as both his father and mother are in declining health; his mother has an enlarged liver, and his father has a chronic kidney problem. Thankfully, both of them are responding well to the herbal medication they are taking.

Micandro is a skilled carpenter specialising in wood and bamboo furniture as well as house construction. In fact, before the pandemic (September 2019), he was one of a group of men hired to do some work in a hotel on the neighbouring island of Bohol. When COVID-19 struck and restrictions were imposed, Micandro’s working hours were reduced, and the resulting reduction in salary meant he could not afford to visit his family back in Negros Oriental. What upset Micandro was that he was not present for the birth of his son Mike Andrew in November 2020. Finally, in April 2021, Micandro’s job in Bohol was concluded and he was able to come home.

In San Jose, Micandro has been happy being reunited with his wife and son. To support his family, Micandro works as a farm labourer mostly doing weeding and earning 200 pesos (€3.60) a day. Sometimes he gets carpentry jobs for which the pay is 450 pesos (€8) a day. Aside from these day jobs, he and his wife Vaishya cultivate sugarcane on their one hectare piece of land. This land was given to them by Vaishya’s parents in January and was already planted at the time. Micandro is applying for a loan to enable him to purchase fertiliser to apply to his sugarcane crop and to hire two labourers to clear the field of weeds. Both the fertiliser and the weeding are vital towards having a good sugar content (thus a higher price) once the harvest takes place in April 2023. He hopes he will be able to sell his sugarcane to the mill for 70,000 pesos which will translate into a net profit of 40,000 pesos (€720) after deducting all the farming expenses and the repayment of the loan.

Micandro and Vaishya’s dream is to have a home of their own, even a small one, and to have it situated near their sugarcane field. Having this additional income from sugarcane cultivation will bring this dream closer to reality. This is the first time for the couple to engage in sugarcane cultivation but both of them grew up on farms and acquired knowledge from their parents. The couple are excited about the prospects for their sugarcane cultivation and we wish them well.