3 minutes reading time (613 words)

Girl With a Vision

This is Honey Jane, a determined young woman from a remote island in the Philippines. From her small village in Mindanao the opportunities available to kids her age seemed light years away.

In fact, her home city of Misamis Oriental might well have felt like living on another planet when looking at a map of her sprawling country of islands. Manila, the main city, was more than a day away and involved a trip by car and boat. The cost of a plane ticket was out of the question.

And yet, even as a young girl, Honey set her sights on what lay beyond Mindanao. At 14, Honey hopped on a boat and came to the main island of Luzon to see what she could find in the big city. While she was living with her cousin in Angono, she learned about the local arts school, Regional School for the Arts Angono (RLSAA).

Honey wasn't an artist. At this point she had even dropped out of school and was no longer a student. But her cousin's neighbor told her about RLSAA and how they offered free tuition. The school was also committed to re-enrolling out of school youth just like Honey.

Right about this time, Bikes for the Philippines (BfP) was being introduced into the school system. And out-of-school youth had become a focal point for the program. Getting students back in school earning diplomas was exactly what this education focused program was all about.

Len Carbonnel is the mathematics teacher at RLSAA and also the BfP bike coordinator for the school. When she heard Honey's story she couldn't get her a bike fast enough...and ultimately, back in class.

It wasn't long before Honey's grades started improving. At the beginning of this year, her senior year, she was recognized for her continued improvement. She loved her school, her family of bike beneficiaries, and her fellow photographers with whom she learned, played, and enjoyed life.

At graduation, Honey was all smiles as she clutched her diploma in one hand and her newly earned bicycle in the other. This girl had taken on the world and came out on top.

But now what? She was still the girl from a poor family on the far side of the Philippines. Opportunity still felt slightly out of reach.

Thanks to Bikes for the Philippines Honey still had a home around bikes. She was so thankful for the doors BfP opened for her she wanted to give back to the program after graduation. She joined the crew and volunteered to pay it forward. She became a mechanic, trainer, and overall mentor to younger cyclists, just like she had been.

Honey continued to impress everyone around her. This was a selfless woman who never gave up. She was clearly willing to learn anything and keep trying until she excelled at it. This would surely take her far in life.

Honey found out about a scholarship to a vo-tech school that would pay for her tuition, room and board, and any added fees associated with her training. Many of these scholarships actually go unfilled due to incomplete applications. But with the help of someone Honey met through the BfP program she successfully completed the application and turned it in. And she waited.

Then just this week, Honey took her first plane ride when she flew from Misamis to Manila for an interview to be accepted into the scholarship program. And within 24 hours, Honey found out she was one of the eleven scholars accepted into the program. She will now continue her education at the Technical Training Center where she will learn Mechatronics Servicing.

And yes, she is absolutely still biking!

Story Riders
Pop Quiz