Floating palace for big-hearted bookworms

By YP cadets Justin Wong and Leanne Ng

A ship of books is reaching out to the world's poor. YP cadets Justin Wong and Leanne Ng jumped aboard when it docked in Hong Kong

By YP cadets Justin Wong and Leanne Ng |

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The ship sells as well as donates books to people in need.

Having a good job with a big salary is important for many people, but not Irina Bezrukova.

From Vladivostok, Russia, she has led a team of eight aboard the floating book fair Logos Hope for two years.

She once had a well-paid job at an electrical company in Russia but, as she explained in an interview with Young Post, she didn't feel satisfied.

Making a difference

"At this time I started to ask God 'Is this really what life is about?'"

"I wanted to do something different, and I prayed, and then I heard about Logos Hope. This is definitely something that I feel makes a difference to people's lives," she says.

To her, the most important part of her volunteer work is being able to reach out and help people in developing countries. Logos Hope's main goal is to bring the benefits of reading to less fortunate people who wouldn't otherwise have access to many books.

Alongside selling the books at ports across the globe, the ship also donates them to people in need.

Touching lives

Sri Lanka holds an especially strong memory for Irina. She tells the story of the Sri Lankans who were amazed by ship's size and splendour.

Bezrukova led a group of men on a tour of the ship, and they shook her hand, thanking her. One man offered his left hand instead of his right, and his friend explained that he had lost two fingers on his right hand after an attack on his school when he was 15 years old.

The Russian insisted on shaking his right hand, and said it was a very comfortable hand to shake. The man looked at her and asked if she was lying, and when she said no, he cried and said, "You are the first person in seven years who has said something nice about my hand".

It was this moment, Bezrukova says, that she realised it was the small things that most touched people's lives.

"I could see in his eyes the desire for acceptance and love, and his new-found self-confidence. And I thought that if I could continue helping people like this, then working here was worth it."

Sharing the wealth

Other than the book fair on Logos Hope, OM Hong Kong, the organisation that invited the boat, is collecting stationery and selling book vouchers to help orphans in Yangon, Myanmar.

"Hong Kong is a rich place," says project supervisor C.C. Lau, "so we hope the public will donate stationery to give to the orphans as a gift and blessing.

"When someone buys the book vouchers at HK$100 each, an orphan will be able to buy any of the books they want when the ship's at Yangon. We hope that we can sell 2,000 vouchers.

Fuelled by generosity

The collection will continue as the Logos Hope travels to Taichung, in Taiwan, and Penang, in Malaysia, before reaching Yangon.

Alongside the campaign for the orphans, OM is also raising funds to pay for the ship's fuel by selling money boxes.

"The ship spends at least HK$40,000 a day on fuel," says Lau. "We aim to raise HK$60,000."

For the public, the arrival of Logos Hope means another opportunity to replenish their bookshelves.

Mrs Chan, who learned of the vessel's arrival through social media, bought religious books for her three-year-old daughter, Winnie.

The next port of call

"I want to teach her a little about the Bible," she says.

"It's good to let kids know more about different religions."

The Cheung family of four, with son Charles, 12, and daughter Charlie, six, visited the ship when it last docked in Hong Kong in 2012.

They hope the book fair will cater for a wider range of languages.

"I hope there'll be more Chinese books available," said Mr Cheung, the father, "then it'll be able to attract more people."

Logos Hope will set sail from Hong Kong on Monday, heading to its next port of call in Taichung.