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Thirty years on

11 Aug, 2017 :: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Logos, the first of the organisation’s four ships, welcomed 12,035 visitors up her gangways in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince, in January 1987. At that time, only 25 percent of the country’s six million inhabitants could read. In a port report written after the conclusion of the visit, John Mathieu (USA) wrote, “One might ask, ‘Why should Logos, a book ship…visit Haiti…with a population unable to read?’” Answering his own question, John went on to explain that the country’s few bookstores hardly met the need for the literate population, and that after the ten-day visit, all the French books the ship had had been sold, in addition to many educational and religious books.

In 2010, Logos Hope was in Oranjestad, Aruba when a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. It measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. Crewmembers attempted to help with relief efforts, but were prevented from sailing into Haitian waters due to the danger of running aground on sunken vessels or shifted underwater rocks, which had dislodged during the quake.

Logos Hope’s arrival in Port-au-Prince marks the first time the book ship has returned to Haiti in 30 years, and for Haitian crewmembers Jean-Claude Mathieu and Vonette Jean, the moment was unforgettable. At the ceremony to officially open the ship’s visit to the island, Vonette said, “I left Haiti at age 11 and have been living in The Bahamas. Three years ago I visited Haiti. Now, sailing in on the ship, I saw a difference and I felt proud of my country and it made me emotional. Tears came to my eyes!” Jean-Claude told his fellow countrymen, “As we sailed into Haiti, I was very happy and joyful.”

The guest of honour, Mayor Ralph Youri Chevry, commented on the significance of the floating bookfair being in Port-au-Prince, noting that this is the second initiative of the year to promote literature in the city. “Libraries are an important part of all societies,” said Mayor Chevry, praising the possibilities for learning that will be accessible to Haitian people through the onboard bookfair.

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