Hope Comes A-Floating

October 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

It is not everyday that a person can boast of living on board and being a part of a majestic ship for week or a month, what more two years. Unless that individual plans to serve in the Navy or has an endless supply of funds which enables them to travel on a cruise endlessly, it is a rare opportunity for the people to live a life on a ship. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is what makes serving on-board the Logos Hope so memorable for volunteers who have chosen this rather unique path of life.

Logos Hope

The ship, Logos Hope docked at Port Klang

The story of a ship named Logos Hope…

The Logos Hope was first built in 1973 and was originally built for the purpose of a passenger car ferry. Before it was known as Logos Hope, it was called Gustav Vasa and it sailed along the North Atlantic routes. A decade after it was built, the ship changed hands to Smyril Line and was renamed Norröna. The vessel then plied the route between the Faroe Islands and Denmark. It came into the hands of GBA Ships in the year 2004 and underwent major renovations to fulfill her upcoming role. She obtained her current name, Logos Hope, in 2005 and after outfitting in Kiel, Germany; Køge, Denmark and final dry dock in Sweden, Logos Hope finally became an active ship in February 2009.

The ship is manned by a crew of 400 volunteers from 45 different nations. The community is diverse, from retirees to children of families serving on board and has an average age of 25 to 30 years old. Most of the volunteers serve for two years, which is the longest period of time available for service. Volunteers not only get a chance to give back to the people around the world, they are also given training programmes, which when combined with the work experience and the cross-cultural encounters, provides them with an opportunity to learn new skills and develop their characters.

Visitors browsing through the many titles that is available onboard the Logos Hope

“Mommy, look… it’s a floating library!”

The company that is behind this vision is GBA Ships e.V, a non-profit organisation that is based in Germany. GBA Ships operates ships that sail around the world with the purpose of bringing knowledge, help and hope to those who are in dire need of it. Their vision is to provide access to high-quality literature to those who need it, providing practical love and promoting peace by embracing diversity, as evident in the ships’ crews. Since 1970, the fleet of ships owned by GBA Ships have established a name for themselves as floating book fairs. These ships have made over 1,400 port calls in over 160 countries and territories and have welcomed over 42 million visitors on board their ships.

The floating book fair offers a selection of over 5,000 titles for visitors who come to the book fair. The wide selection of books on display are suitable for every member of the family as it covers a good range of categories such as cookery, sports, hobbies, science, medicine, dictionaries, languages and philosophy. The books are donated by publishers whose books have been removed from circulation in first-world countries after the latest editions have been released. This gives Logos Hope the chance to offer these books at a fraction of their costs to people in developing countries.

Visitors can see pictures of the ship's history on the walls as they head to the book display area

A ship full of angels in disguise…

One of the many things that volunteers of the Logos Hope find meaningful is the initiatives and projects that they do for the communities in need. GBA Ships believe in quality life for all, regardless of personal background and circumstances. As the ship sail from port to port, the crew contributes to the society’s needs in every way possible – be it a simple task of sharing and exchanging experiences with locals to donating supplies or even building schools or houses. Some of the projects that have been undertaken by the Logos Hope’s communities include hosting over 80 tribal chiefs on board in Ghana, building orphanages and donating over 50,000 books to community groups and colleges in Liberia, running HIV / AIDS Awareness projects in West Africa and offering free eye examinations for the people in Malaysia.

Some of the book titles that are available for sale at the floating book fair

Where will they go next?

The Logos Hope is currently docked at Port Klang until 24th October 2011. The ship will then be heading to Kuching, Sarawak where it is expected to arrive on 27th October and will be there till 15th November before it moves on to Kota Kinabalu. The Logos Hope will then continue to make its way to Singapore and Philippines. The fair is open to the public from 10 am to 10 pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and 3 pm to 10 pm on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays. Entrance fees are priced at RM1 per person and admission is free for children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult.

Though it was almost 5pm when this picture was taken, there were still many people queueing up to board the floating book fair

For more information on the Logos Hope and its future port of calls, log on to their website here.

Logos Hope is currently looking for donations for its generators. Interested parties may refer to the above website or speak to any of the staff on-board Logos Hope for more information.

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