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The boat sails with more than 5,000 books inside. The charity initiative, operated from Germany, is visiting Chile.
It is the largest floating library in the world and its objective is to provide equal access to literature, in addition to carrying out social and humanitarian aid work. This is Logos Hope, a ship that is operated by GBA Ships (Gute Bücher für Alle in German), a charitable organization registered in the German city of Mosbach, which since 1970 is responsible for floating libraries navigate the world “To bring knowledge, help and hope”, according to its creators.
The Logos Hope – whose name comes from “logos”, which means “word” in Greek, and “hope”, “hope” in English – entered service in 2009. It is one of four ships of its kind that has operated GBA Ships. Currently, the boat visits Chile for the second time (in 1982 it has already set foot in the country). So far, he has toured the ports of Antofagasta and Valparaíso. During February and March it will land in Lirquén and Punta Arenas. Then, according to the planned itinerary, the following destinations will be Argentina and Brazil.
The return to the globe
The first GBA Ships library was called Logos and in 1971 it traveled to Madras, India, where in a single day it was visited by more than 15 thousand people. The boat added to its nautical list more than 250 ports in 130 countries and territories. The second ship, acquired in 1977 by the same organization, was called Doulos (“servant”, in Greek), recognized in the Guinness book as the oldest ship still in activity making interoceanic voyages.
During the 70s and 80s of the last century, the two boats went around the globe. That was until, in 1989, the Logos II had to replace the Logos, which, due to a strong storm, ran aground on the Beagle channel between Chile and Argentina. The accident did not have fatal victims.
Later, due to the high demand of countries that asked to be considered by the humanitarian organization, it was decided to acquire a new, much larger, 12,000 tons vessel.
The Logos Hope, originally called Gustav Vasa, in honor of the King of Sweden, was built in Rendsburg, Germany, in 1973. The ship, reconditioned and put into service in 2009, replaced the Doulos and Logos II who retired as floating libraries. Throughout history, the four ships libraries have visited more than 160 countries and about 46 million people have been on board
“We want to visit countries and share knowledge through books and also with our culture. You have to integrate all the experiences “, says in an interview with DW Ji Hyeon Lee, crew member of Logos Hope. Ji Hyeon Lee is from South Korea. He joined the project in 2016. “When I visited Hong Kong I found the ship (…) They inspired me a lot, because at that time I had quit my job to start new things. So, I decided to travel and join the group for two years, “he tells DW.
Logos Hope volunteers can opt for short stays of 3 months and longer stays ranging from 1 to 2 years. Likewise, no member of the crew receives a salary, regardless of whether it is the captain or a cleaner. Each member is responsible for managing their funds through sponsorships to cover the cost of their time of service.
On land and sea, crew members are always very active. The GBA Ships organization is responsible for training them during the period of service in areas such as communication, ethics, leadership, intercultural perspectives and conflict resolution.
“We are doing humanitarian work, but at the same time exchanging our cultures. We are 400 volunteers from more than 60 countries. We have different professions, ages and sometimes families with children come, who also have a school on board, “says DW Ji Hyeon.
For every taste
The books that Logos Hope carries are as diverse as their crew. Most of its titles are in English, although there are also in other languages, such as German and Spanish.
“The ship is sailing all the time, so we receive material through shipping containers. Therefore, books change constantly. We try, yes, to have works in the language of the visited country. Since last year we toured Latin American countries, therefore, we have 70 percent of books in Spanish and 30 percent of books in English, “the volunteer explains to DW.
Almost all books come from the United States. These are donations from publishers, but also members of the Logos Hope are responsible for buying literature when they visit different corners of the world. The subjects of the books are endless. From art, science, personal growth, sports, philosophy, gastronomy, history, hobbies and religion.
Regarding this last topic, the ship has a space dedicated to show Bibles in different languages. Because of this, some people believe that the ship is traveling with an evangelizing mission. “It’s not just about religion. It’s about helping, sharing knowledge. It is our slogan and main objective. In fact, on the ship not all are Christians and it is not a requirement to be part of the project, “says Ji Hyeon Lee.
Because GBA Ships is a non-profit organization, one way to finance it is through the sale of books and souvenirs. The ship also has a cafeteria, where you can buy coffee, ice cream and popcorn.
Not only books
“But in addition to selling books, in each country we visit we try to do some social project, especially when there are natural disasters, wars or diseases,” says the South Korean crew member.
The missions in Papua New Guinea (1999) and Ghana (2010-2016) marked a historic event for Logos Hope, since in the case of the oceanic country, leaders of opposition groups of a civil war met in order to achieve a reconciliation; In the case of the African nation, hundreds of tribal chiefs left their differences aside to attend cooperation seminars aboard the library.
Other projects that stand out are the HIV awareness programs carried out in West Africa; the construction of orphanages in Myanmar; donations of more than 50,000 books to community groups and universities in Liberia; sewing workshops for women in Sri Lanka; and the reconstruction of homes on Antigua and Barbuda Island.
Fast and hospitable
Logos Hope has been in Chile since January. “People have been very hospitable here. When we tell people about the programs we have, they are really excited, “the young crew member tells DW. In his opinion, “Chileans are the fastest in Latin America in terms of the effectiveness of communication. Things work very well and that makes our job easier. “
The ship was in the city of Antofagasta, where more than 60 thousand people visited it. In Valparaiso, the reception was similar and even had the presence of authorities.
“We know that the prices of books are very expensive in Latin America, especially in Chile. Therefore, the ship offers literature at very convenient prices. In addition, it is a unique experience to share with people from other cultures, “concludes the volunteer.