Logos Hope spreads messages of harmony and knowledge
Hope - it is a very powerful word, for those who believe in it, live by it, and as it is said, it makes the world go around.
Armed with a shipload of books, Logos Hope docked in Kingston. Along with it came a crew of 400 international volunteers, bringing with them their vision and purpose - that of knowledge, help, and hope to the people of the world.
"We want to share knowledge, help and hope with the people of the world," said Annika Lee, media relations officer, Logos Hope. "Knowledge is, of course, through the book fair, where we sell over 5,000 different titles of books."
The only flurry of excitement at the cement factory pier at Rockfort, Kingston, on normal days is the to and fro of an occasional cargo ship unloading raw materials for the cement company and the cars zipping past on the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway, the arterial road to the Norman Manley International airport.
As Logos Hope opened its doors to the public on May 12, cars lined up, scrambling for a place to find parking; people started lining up, often braving the elements, and makeshift kiosks were ready to brisk business selling snacks and juices.
According to Lee, Kingston has historically been one of their busiest ports-of-call.
"We received 117,709 visitors to the ship in Kingston," she said.
Operated by GBA Ships, a non-profit organisation based in Germany, Logos Hope and her sister ships, Logos, Doulos, and Logos II, have, to date, visited more than 160 countries and territories since 1970. An estimated 46 million people have visited these ships.
Logos Hope was launched into service in 2009 and is the organisation's largest ship.
"Many Jamaicans who visited the ships at a young age were excited to have us back!" Lee said. "It was a tremendous privilege to welcome so many on board and to see how happy they were to look through our selection of books."
The visitors had a unique experience, milling around the floating bookstore, having conversations with the crew, getting recommendations on the books to purchase. A 'kid-in-a-candy-store' scenario, this time, it was gratification for the mind and soul.
"We had many stories of building friendships between the crew and Jamaicans who visited," said Lee.
60 nationalities on board
Logos Hope is a little earth sailing the oceans. Representing 60 nationalities, the volunteers on the ship are the epitome of harmony and unity in diversity. The common thread that binds them together is love of God.
"Everyone is welcome to apply, though you have to be 18 years old and speak fluent English," said Lee.
All crew, including the captain, are unpaid volunteers. They raise support or sponsorship to live on board.
"We come from many different backgrounds," said Lee, "but are united by our desire to help other people."
The word 'logos' is Greek and is traditionally translated as 'word, thought, principle, or speech'. In the Bible, it is used to refer to the person of Jesus Christ. Logos Hope's crew members all follow Christ's example for their lives.
"We want to bring the messages of the importance of education and literacy and the importance of unity in diversity," Lee said. "We want to promote peace and help communities be aware of topics such as human trafficking and HIV/AIDS, and we want to come alongside local communities and organisations in order to encourage them."
Some of the programmes in which the crew participates include school visits, human-trafficking awareness and training, building and renovation projects, and library-donation projects.
As part of their mandate, they donate books to schools and libraries and offer cultural programmes and other educational programmes.
"Help is through various practical aid projects such as water-purifier donations, free eyeglass testing, building and painting projects, and clothing donations," the Logos Hope media relations officer said.
Lee said that it is their strong belief, and the message they spread to the world, that books have the power to transform societies. All the books sold aboard the ship are subsidised, which is the driving factor of Logo Hope's popularity.
"We believe in the power of books and education to impact communities and transform lives," Lee said. "By providing resources and materials that may not be accessible at such low prices, we can bring people together through the power of books and knowledge."
The adage, little drops of water make the mighty ocean, literally and figuratively resonates with Logos Hope. Through their relentless work, these world citizens are making a difference in their little ways.
"The ship can only stay in a port for a few weeks since there are many ports to visit around the world, but we encourage those we meet to continue valuing education, literacy, and unity even after the ship is gone," Lee said. "Volunteering to help in local organisations who have a similar vision is a great way to sustain the initiatives of Logos Hope even after we have continued to another country."
In the turbulent times that we are living in, the mission of Logos Hope in enlightening lives, spreading love and harmony, and making people believe that there is a future that is bright and replete with possibilities are drops that make the mighty ocean of human faith, bathed in the glory of Almighty God.
"That there is definitely hope for the future and that we can all learn to live together in unity despite our differences," Lee said "Logos Hope is a genuine expression of international goodwill, and in a way, it is a microcosm of what the world should look like: many people from all walks of life serving together to make the world a better place."