He was the first resident of their barangay in Donsol, Sorsogon in the Philippines to graduate from college.
So Ryan Homan made it his mission to return home and help his fellow Barangay San Jose residents.
“In 2013, I found out that there were more non-readers here, even in the Intermediate, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6,” he tells Local Heroes. “I had to do something to eradicate the non-readers.”
Homan founded the Balsa-Basa Program, an outreach program for kids who are not enrolled in regular classes or who cannot go to school.
Many of the children in the village live near the river and in the mountains. They can’t go to school when it’s raining. Some skip school to help parents during the farming season, so Homan brings the school to them.
The program’s name is coined from two Filipino words – “balsa” or raft and “basa” or read.
“My first reading program was the mobile library,” he recalls. “I made my own balsa, double size the raft.”
It takes an hour to travel in the river. Homan and his volunteers bring books and school lessons on the raft.
“I do the reading for the kids. I fetch them house to house and then I gather them in the balsa,” he narrates. “We read, I also bring food for them, for the kids.”
His efforts paid off!
The children developed the skill to easily communicate with teachers. They were also able to comprehend what they have read in books.
The most rewarding for Homan was the significant improvement of the students of San Jose Elementary School in the National Achievement Test.
From 51 percent, the school’s performance jumped to 71 percent.
“Education is very important for the kids,” Ryan Homan says, “because I help them achieve their dreams through education.”
After college he returned to his village to teach children to read on his boat called the Balsa Basa! 🙏📚