World's largest floating library, Logos Hope, has opened its gangways for bibliophiles in Muscat, who can browse and buy from more than 5,000 titles in Arabic, English, Malayalam and Tagalog until October 7. T A Ameerudheen takes a trip around the nine-decked giant ship and checks out what lies in store for visitors.
An unusual visitor docked at the Sultan Qaboos Ports on Tuesday evening. The giant blue and white ship neither carried huge containers, automobiles or heavy-duty machinery. It didn't load minerals or unload perishable items. Instead, it just had tonnes of books and 400 volunteers who promise to spread the message of hope!
Logos Hope, World's largest floating library, has returned to Sultan Qaboos Port close to three years after it left Muscat in 2011. It provides a huge opportunity for the bibliophiles in Muscat to browse and buy from more than 5,000 titles on various topics, including science, sports, hobbies and family life.
The availability of children's titles, academic texts, dictionaries and atlases make the book fair a wholesome family affair. Books are available in four different languages – Arabic, English, Malayalam and Tagalog at affordable rates.
"This is my first visit to Muscat with Logos Hope. It was a seven-day trip from Colombo. Everybody is happy to reach the wonderful port of Muscat. We are aware of its rich heritage," Captain James Dyer, Master of Logos Hope told Hi Weekly. "We will be eager to explore Muscat. We have 400 volunteers representing 45 different nations on board. But our main aim is to bring good literature for the people. In 2011, around 26,000 people visited us. We expect the number will go up this time," he added.
The ship was in Colombo for almost a month (from August 29 to September 23, 2013) before it began its Muscat trip. "We received five containers of books from Colombo. That was enough to replenish our shelves for the avid readers in Muscat. We refill our shelves every three months. We will get our next book container in Abu Dhabi," said Captain Dyer.
As soon as the ship docked at the port, volunteers spruced up the nine-deck ship, replenished the shelves with new titles, and arranged them properly. In fact, volunteers form the backbone of Logos Hope. All of them are non-salaried volunteers, including many serving in their professional capacity, such as seafarers, engineers, electricians, nurses, teachers and cooks. And sponsorship from friends, family members and civic organisations helps them serve on board.
Decks of Logos Hope
Deck 3 :
Logos Hope doesn't want to limit its activities in spreading knowledge alone. It is more than just about books. So the volunteers often associate with charity drives quite often. They will take part in a host of charity activities during their one-week stay in Muscat. "Expressing love for those in need, promoting peace by embracing diversity and guiding people towards a purposeful life is part of our vision," said Cat Tse, another volunteer from the United Kingdom, who works as Media Relations Officer.
The volunteers will venture out to clean the beaches on October 4, and involve in an eye testing camp on board on October 7. Besides, they plan to visit schools to interact with students and spend time with children afflicted with cancer and disability in various hospitals.
The volunteers will partner with I-Care Initiative's 11th water distribution event on October 5. The drive aims to distribute 11,000 water bottles to street workers. "We want to connect with more people. We want to give them hope. I had involved in a lot of activities as a volunteer. Last year, I was part of a team that donated 1500 books to establish a library in a slum area," Tse said.
Life on board
Life on board is quite interesting, feel the volunteers. All of them get a chance to meet their colleagues when they assemble at the dining area in the sixth deck for the breakfast. People come again for a light lunch in the afternoon. The dinner is a little heavy as they serve either rice or pasta. Four volunteers share one cabin each (in Deck 2), while those with the family stay in the eighth deck. "The life on board is very interesting. All the volunteers learn to be flexible. I am British Chinese. I love rice for dinner. But it is tough for those from West. But they learn to adjust. We live together in a close community. I share the cabin with people from three different countries– Taiwan, Germany and USA – and it is a great learning experience too," Tse said.
Matthew Hyndman from Northern Ireland joined Logos Hope in September 2012 and the 23 year old has visited eight countries so far. "I love the life on board. There are so many different people on board, and it is a pleasure to interact with them. The best thing about it is the diversity. At times, being in the company of so many people is a challenge," he said.
Emrae Corpuz, a volunteer from Philippines, agrees. "It is a culturally diverse world. It is a life time experience to mingle and make friends from different countries," Corpuz, who completes her two years' voluntary service in January.
Corpuz feels that the best lesson she learnt from the ship is to be humble. "I came to the ship after my university studies. Though I joined the ship to serve people, I was bit annoyed when I was asked to clean the ship on the first day on board. I had to clean toilets, and the floors and it helped me shed my ego and become humble," she added. When the ship leaves the shores of Muscat next week, the volunteers hope that the Middle East experience will make them even humble human beings.
|Captain James Dyer|
Master, Logos Hope
Every one in the World loves to read good books. But people in many countries do not have access to good literature. Logos Hope reaches out to them and gives them an opportunity to grab quality books. We offer books in different languages at affordable rates.
Volunteer, Northern Ireland
I am really excited to meet and interact with the people of Oman. This is my first visit to a country in the Middle East, though I have heard a lot about the region. I am here with an open mind. The country looks so beautiful. I wish to see a different life and architecture here in Oman.
Volunteer, United Kingdom
All the volunteers learn to be flexible once they join Logos Hope team. We live together as a community. I share the cabin with people from three different countries– Taiwan, Germany and USA – and it is a great learning experience. Our aim is to connect with the people. We are here to spread the message of hope.
How to enter
Entry for public: Till October 7
Entry time: 2 pm to 10 pm on all days
Entry fee: 300 baizas (free entry for children under 16 years, but they must be accompanied by an adult. Visitors can enter the port in the shuttle bus service provided in the parking lot behind the Port Services Corporation building in Muttrah. National ID or Resident Card is needed for the entry.
Ladies' Morning: Will be organised on Sunday between 10 am to 1 pm.