World’s largest floating book fair at Colombo port till Sept.30


Pics. by Nishan S. Priyantha

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa 

There is something great about being a young volunteer that gives him or her Knowledge, Help and Hope. Most youth have unlimited energy and they sometimes feel that, given the right tools and connections, they can change the world!  

MV Logos Hope hosted by GBA ships, is one such event which has been performed when the wind is fair. It links over 45 different nationalities from every corner of the world as they set sail on the MV Logos Hope known as the world’s largest floating book fair. 

Setting sail for the second time, the Logos Hope following its sister ship Doulos which visited Sri Lanka six times, have 400 unpaid volunteers on board its vessel. Fun as it may sound their voyage on board is not merely a pleasure cruise as a host of activities are lined up to keep them engaged.

Although the main aim of the ship is to serve people in the port communities, those on board also benefit personally during their term of service. A structured training programme, combined with work experience and cross-culture encounters, provides crewmembers with valuable opportunities to learn new skills and develop character. 

The Logos Hope community is regarded as a genuine expression of international goodwill and understanding. The age of volunteers ranges from retirees to children of families serving on board. Most of the crewmembers are in their 20s or 30s. From the captain to the newest staff member, each person has a job that is essential to keeping the ship running. Most people serve for two years.

The crew and staff are all non- salaried volunteers-including many serving in their professional capacity, such as seafarers, engineers, electricians, nurses, teachers and cooks adding that sponsorship from friends, family members and civic organizations enables crewmembers to serve on board.  

In an interview with The Island on Wednesday, Logos Hope Project Manager, Joanne Li said that in many countries they provided significant humanitarian relief in situations of need.

"In port, we form partnerships with local organizations and work alongside them in hospitals, schools, prisons, elderly and children’s homes and orphanages," Li said. 

She also noted that they were supplying material aid; building and renovating houses, installing water purifiers or providing general help in communities and temporary health clinics that extended free dental treatment, eye testing and eyeglasses as well as general health checks.   

 "Many around the world will also benefit from seminars on social issues such as marriage, relationships and leadership," she said. 

Li also explained that it was the foundation for the service of our volunteer crewmembers, adding that, "our desire is that all on board participate in a meaningful exchange of life experiences, faith and culture."  

The ship was build in 1973 and first named Gustav Vasa. Originally built as a passenger car ferry, the vessel sailed North Atlantic routes. In 1983, the ship changed hands to the Smyril line and was renamed Norrona and sailed between the Faroe Islands and Denmark. By 2004 GBA ships had raised sufficient, funds to acquire the Vessel and she underwent extensive renovations for her new role. The word Logos is Greek, traditionally meaning ‘word, thought, principle or speech.’ 

In September 2001, criteria for a suitable vessel were drawn up and the search for this vessel began. GBA Ships purchased the Gustav Vasa in 2004 from the Smyril Line Company. In 2005, the ship was renamed Logos Hope and sailed to Trogir, Croatia, where she underwent extensive renovations to upgrade onboard accommodation and install a larger book deck. After outfitting in Kiel, Germany, Koge, Denmark, and final dry docking in Sweden, Logos Hope sailed into active service in February 2009.    

Logos Hope’s crew and staff bring hope to people in different ways, with the greatest respect for the expectations and culture of the countries visited, Logos Hope Media Relation Officer Cat Se said.

"We firmly believe that a secure hope and a life of purpose are possible through engaging in a relation with god. Whenever on board or on shore, we share hope through a meaningful exchange of experience and by sharing new perspectives through our different cultures," she said. 

At the end of last month, MV Logos Hope came back to Colombo with its largest floating book fair by fulfilling the hope of Sri Lankan reading public who are waiting for the month of September to purchase their quota of reading material for the year.    

The Logos Hope book fair holds over 5,000 book titles for the entire family, providing quality literature at affordable prices Subjects vary from Science, technology, sports, hobbies and cookery to philosophy and children’s books. 

"We try to have local language materials available for each port visit when possible. In many ports, we set up libraries, donate books and hold workshops on how to run a library. Training is also provided on topics such as HIV and AIDS, first aid, hygiene and healthcare," Cat Se explained. 

Lankans visitors could explore the world’s largest floating book fair till September 22 at the port of Colombo. Tickets cost Rs. 100 each and children under the age of 12 have free admission but must be accompanied by an adult.  

In addition to the book fair, the visitors could also experience the fully air conditioned Visitor Experience Deck.

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