For Adam Satchell, 2020 was supposed to be an amazing year.
The man from Clacton-on-Sea was going to quit his job and move out to the Philippines.
There, he would move in with his fiancé and set up a yoga business.
The highlight of the first summer of his new life was going to be his marriage to his partner Joy, who he had been with for seven years.
But like all plans during the coronavirus pandemic, things have taken a turn for the worst.
Soon after Adam touched ground in the Philippines, the country was placed on strict lockdown.
Unlike Britain’s lockdown, the Philippines version is much harsher, leaving him unable to leave the home after 6pm.
He can’t travel to the country’s capital Manilla to get work visas or marriage documentation.
This has left him without a job, and unable to carry out his dream of being married to the love of his life.
Worse still, his savings have dwindled, and without government support, Adam is now in a desperate position.
He has no money, no way to get money, and because of the price of flights, no way to return home.
Leaving for the Philippines
Back at the beginning of March, coronavirus for many, still seemed like a minor issue.
That period of time was when 35-year-old Adam Satchell – a yoga teacher from Clacton-on-Sea – decided to make the big leap he’d been planning for years.
He was about to uproot his Essex life, and move to the Philippines, where his fiancé Joy lived.
“I was coming out here to get married,” said Adam.
“I quit my job in the UK, I closed down my Yoga studio in the UK and I planned to come out to the Philippines to live and stay.
“I wanted to come out here and start my own little Yoga business.
“I’d come out here with a pretty solid plan; I had some savings behind me as well.”
Adam was also a qualified dental technician, meaning that if his business fell through, he had a back-up plan.
It was going to be a big step, but Adam was ready to take it.
He didn’t have a clue how quickly things would change.
“It was literally on the plane when I realised this COVID situation is really a big deal.
“Everyone was taking precautions, wearing masks, washing hands.
“I got out here and then it really started blowing up on the news.
“Everyone started taking it at lot more seriously, and before I knew it, there was a lockdown.”
As we know, every country in the world has reacted to the coronavirus pandemic differently.
In the Philippines, lockdown was initially quite leaninet.
But very quickly, it became much more strict than anything we saw in the UK.
“It’s completely different to the UK,” Adam explained.
“When we first started, it was light – people were still going out in the evenings.
“All of a sudden, a more intense lockdown was put on.
“We went into an ‘enhanced community quarantine’.
“Right now we can’t leave the house unless we have a pass with our name and address on it.
“Only one person is allowed to leave the house at a time, to go get food or whatever you need to stay alive, and you can only do that between 11am and 5pm.
“Then there’s a curfew at 6pm, where no-one can go out.”
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If anyone leaves their house in the Philippines, they must wear both a mask and a visor.
They’re also confined to specific regions, with checkpoints making sure people don’t leave their zone.
Adam went on: “We can only go out three days a week.
“If I want to go shopping, I have to walk through a decontamination tent where they spray you from head to toe.
“Every step you take, you’re signing your name every where you go.”
In the UK, we’re getting used to restrictions lifting but Adam said that it’s the exact opposite in the Philippines.
“Right now, it’s the strictest it’s been.”
“I feel like my options are all gone”
Becuase of the strict lockdown in place, Adam has been unable to launch his Yoga business, as planned.
“I’m a yoga instructor,” said Adam, “being in close proximity with people and teaching in groups of people together; it’s not allowed.”
Adam also explained about how his back-up plan has been rendered completely untenable by current regulations.
“I’m also a dental technician, which involves working with peoples mouths, so dentistry is completely out the window.
“My other work experiences are working in hotels and working in bars.
“I feel like my options are all gone.”
Like everywhere, remaining jobs are heavily fought over, and because of Adam’s position, companies aren’t willing to take risks.
“I’ve been trying to search for online work for a long time, but it’s ridiculous the amount of competition that’s out there.
“I nearly had an option to do some call centre work, but then I had interviews and they said: ‘Seeing as you’re British and you don’t have a work visa here yet, we can’t sponsor you because we don’t know the future.’
“Companies are struggling at the same time.
“I’ve pretty much had the same message from everyone.
“It feels very, very bleak.”
“It just seems to get tougher and tougher”
On top of this, the most heartbreaking thing for Adam is that because of the kind of lockdown the Philippines have introduced, he has no way to get married to his fiancé Joy.
Adam’s savings – which were going to pay for his wedding – have completely dissipated after months of living in the Philippines with no income.
But there’s another challenge stopping his wedding.
“I wanted to get married to my fiance.
“I have to go to Manilla to be able to do this, because that’s where the embassy is, and at the moment I can’t go past a certain area.
“I can’t go past the checkpoint to get to Manilla.
“Anyway, Manilla has completely shut down.
“If I wanted to get my marriage visas and the paperwork for us to get married, the earliest dates are mid-January next year.
“It just seems to get tougher and tougher how the months have gone on.”
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Adding insult to injury, Adam is living in one of the worst-hit areas in the Philippines.
Adam lives with Joy in Santa Rosa, the capital of a region called Leguna.
After Manilla, Leguna is the worst-hit area in the entire country.
So when the country begins to come out of its lockdown, Leguna will be one of the last regions to return to normal.
“All of my savings have gone now completely”
Unable to get a job, and unable to get the paperwork which would allow him a better shot of getting one, Adam is at his whit’s end.
He’s been offering private yoga lessons online, but it’s not enough to survive on.
And his fiancé Joy has been left jobless by the pandemic too.
That’s why he’s set up a fundraiser to try and raise fund to keep him and his household solvent.
“Right now, my partner isn’t working,” said Adam.
“We’ve got no help.
“All of my savings have gone now completely.
“All of this money will be going towards my survival, and also the survival of our household.”
It’s not clear when Adam’s position will improve, so he will any help anyone can give.