Logos Hope

Logos Hope

7 August, 2013
The Harder Family
Bringing knowledge, help, and hope to the people of the world
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Described as “the world’s largest floating book fair,” the Logos Hope is home to a community of 400 unpaid volunteers from over 45 different countries, living and working together to bring knowledge, help, and hope to the people of the world.

Klaus Harder, his wife Lillian, and their two children, Nicholas and Louis, are one of the many families aboard Logos Hope. We sit down with them to chat about what Logos Hope is all about, and how this experience has changed their lives.

Editor’s note: At the time of the interview (28-Mar-2013), the Harder Family had already been living on Logos Hope for six months.

Ecozine: How did you hear of Logos Hope?

Klaus: Logos Hope is run by global organization GBA Ships. Their head office is located in Germany, but they have offices all over the world. Our friends were here on the ship before, and the ship is famous – we read about it, but from our friends we got a bigger view of what it would be like to live on the ship. They also have two kids, so they told us about what happens while you’re here. Before coming on board, I worked as an electrician – my friend is an electrician as well, and so they invited us to come here to help with our skills and serve the people.

Ecozine: When did you join Logos Hope and why?

Klaus: We’ve been on the ship for the past six months. At first, we weren’t really sure about coming here because we have two young children. Nicholas, the older one who is five, has to go to school in Germany next year. So, we thought, “How can we manage it?” Well, there’s an official school on the ship, and there are other families on board, so the children all go to school together. The school teaches in English, and their English has improved a lot in the past half-year. Sometimes, I think Nicholas can speak better English than me!

The kids all play together, and most of the time, they don’t even think about being on the ship. It’s really nice to see children from different countries playing together – it’s really international.

Ecozine: How does this lifestyle (living on a ship) compare to living on land?

Klaus: For me, working with an international team lets me experience all the different cultures. People from other places have ways of doing things differently – on our electrician team we have five people coming from Australian, New Zealand, Germany and the U.S. I get to learn new ways to do things, and I can also share my knowledge with them.

Lillian: My role is to support Klaus and also to take care of our kids – our youngest is four years old. We live in a cabin with two bedrooms and a bathroom, which is pretty nice. The experience living on this ship differs from person to person. Myself, and one of our kids, we’re very outgoing. We love to be surrounded by people and have dinner in the big dining room with everyone. It’s a great opportunity to meet other people from other countries. We love it.

Klaus: But we also have routines for the kids: we have a family table [in the dining room] so that the kids know where to go and aren’t lost. We also have bedtime routines: we read a story – the kids know what to expect during the day, and in the evening, so when we say that it’s time to head back to the cabin, they know that it’s time to get ready for bed.

Ecozine: Logos Hope is such a novel concept – we love that you help the port communities you land in. What project(s) have you been involved in?

Klaus: We have volunteer teams that go out onto land. We joined in the Philippines, and then we moved to Hong Kong, then Cambodia, Thailand, and now we are back in Hong Kong for dry dock time. We help out in a homeless shelter in Ma Wan, and there are teams going out to help with cleaning and serving meals.

Everyone on the ship is involved in some type of work, but not everyone goes out to help every week. For example, on Sunday we have open ship – so it’s open for the public, and it’s an event where we represent the different cultures. There’s a Dutch table that represents their country: they wear wooden shoes and dress in their national costumes to give people a sense of their culture. We also have people represent their national dances, like swing dance, or Korean fan dance. It’s really interesting and colorful, and it’s a nice event.

Lillian: Yes, people on the ship are involved in this program or in the program for going out on land.

Klaus: We have an office that organizes and manages people in different events. Last week, one of the girls on the ship told me she went to help in a house for handicapped people, and they played games with them. She said their eyes lit up during their visit, because they were so happy to have visitors showing such care for them. They bring them the hope of life.

Ecozine: Living on a ship, we’re sure that you must pay particular attention to energy/water use, and the generation of waste. How do you deal with that, and are there guidelines or environmental initiatives on board to help you?

Klaus: We changed a lot of systems to be more environmentally friendly because it’s an old ship. For example, we now have a heat recovery system to collect waste heat from our generators, using it for the water heating system on the ship. A garbage management system has been set up, managed by the Deck Department, to make sure we source separate our waste in the dining room.

The air-conditioning in the main rooms, like the dining room and meeting room, is turned off at night to save energy. The lights are time-controlled, so they automatically switch off at 22:00. Of course, you can switch them back on manually if you need to.

For the community of volunteers on board, we have a “Charlie” for clothes. When people leave the ship and they have clothes they don’t want anymore, you can put it in the Charlie. A team of volunteers then sorts through them to check the quality, and clothes that aren’t too worn are then available for the community on board to share. It’s kind of like shopping for free.

Also, we try to sail efficiently, so if a country invites us to visit, we try to go from port to port so we don’t waste a lot of fuel. We try to be efficient because we see our responsibility to the world; to be careful with resources.

To learn more about Logos Hope, please visit: www.gbaships.org

By: Esther Wong
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