Sarah Sookchan always felt she could do more with her life. The 30-year-old Marabella resident worked in the administrative sector of the oil and gas industry for a while but felt she wanted to do more. That desire led her to the MV Logos Hope. For the past two years she has worked on board the world’s largest floating book fair. Sookchan is one of 400 crew members.
The Logos Hope opened to the TT public on Thursday. Port of Spain is the ship’s first port for 2020. It moves to Barbados on January 29.
President Paula-Mae Weekes, Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Communications Minister Donna Cox and Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez attended the opening at the Cruise Ship Complex, Dock Road, Port of Spain. Weekes cut the ribbon to signal the ship open. The ship’s captain, James Berry, and its managing director, Pil-Hun Park, spoke.
Sookchan said to Newsday afterward, “I have been on board for two years and three months. For the past two years we have been in Latin America.”
She joined in 2017 after learning of the ship from a friend. Before that, Sookchan made yearly visits to Dominica with her church, Faith Centre, San Fernando.
“With my church I would do missions trips every year. So we would go to Dominica every year. I used to feel so fulfilled doing that and I just decided I could dedicate my life to this kind of service. “One of my friends mentioned the ship and I researched it, and then the more and more I talked about it and found out more, I felt drawn to it and I joined in September 2017,” she said.
GBA Ships, the operators of Logos Hope, partners with a Christian missionary organisation called Operation Mobilisation, which has an office in TT, Sookchan applied and was accepted. Since then she has “fallen in love” with the ship’s vision and its mission of getting into the cultures of the countries it visits, connecting with the people of those countries.
“For me that is the most fulfilling part and I’d like to spend a lifetime being fulfilled in that way,” she said. Sookchan hopes to see a lot of families coming on board the Logos Hope, as it stays until January 28. She is part of the Logos Hope’s advance preparation team, which prepares the port before the ship’s arrival.
“This is just to promote reading. A lot of people are so fixed on their gadgets...I know a lot of people are really into e-books as well, but there is something special about holding a book in your hand and encourages you to take some quiet time,” Sookchan said. She extended her commitment to the ship for another two years in September 2019.
Garcia told those at the opening that the Logos’ visit was viewed as a partnership with stakeholders in the interest of TT’s children. “What Logos Hope has been doing over the years is assisting children all over the world in order to develop that holistic education and in particular in the area of literacy,” he said.
He added that the work of Logos helps the ministry in advancing its cause of parenting in education. Fazal Karim former minister of science, technology and tertiary education under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration, also visited the ship. He bought two books for his wife on leadership and management.
He said he was always delighted to be a part of anything that encourages knowledge, talent, education and training. Karim added that he visited the ship with his family on every occasion it came to TT. He called on people to visit as one was able to get up-to-date books for a fraction of the usual cost. The ship is run by GBA Ships, a non-profit organisation based in Germany. It continues the work of its sister ships, Logos, Doulos and Logos II. The vessels have visited more than 160 countries and territories since 1970 and have welcomed 46 million people on board.
Logos Hope was launched into service in 2009 and carries a crew of 400. Sixty nationalities are represented onboard and do not receive a salary.
Visitors to the Logos Hope have over 5,000 titles to choose from across different categories such as science, medicine, dictionaries, languages, sports, hobbies, cookery, the arts, novels and children’s books.