BY DAVID KNOX
Georgetown, Guyana school kids looking at the children's books
WHILE her former classmates are enjoying Christmas unwrapping presents under the tree one Borders girl is busily bringing hope and books to some of the poorest parts of the world.
Jo Bailey from Hawick is spending the festive season volunteering on board the world’s largest floating book fair, Logos Hope.
The ship’s crew reaches out to the world’s poorest port communities, bringing access to knowledge through the range of books on sale at reduced prices.
It also lends practical and medical help, from building libraries to testing eyesight, and offers hope as crew members visit those in hospital, prison, or on the streets; sharing their own personal experiences of faith.
Jo left Scotland in August, for a two-year commitment on board Logos Hope, which is operated by the Christian charity, Operation Mobilisation (OM). The 18-year-old had just graduated from Hawick High School and now works in the ship’s galley, preparing and serving food for the onboard community of 400 people.
She receives no pay, but her living costs are covered by sponsorship from her church and individual supporters.
Jo loves the fact that there’s always something different going on in the floating community, which contains 400 volunteers drawn from 60 nationalities.
She told us: “My favourite thing is the change every day.
"It feels like we are our own unique country, sailing around and visiting other countries. It’s a very varied life, but it still feels very stable - and that's because we are all united by our faith in a never-changing God.
“But this Christmas, I will definitely be missing spending time with my family in Scotland – as well as snow.
"I will miss a cold Christmas."
Since she embarked in Ghana, west Africa, the vessel has made calls in Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The 12-day voyage is the longest many of Jo’s shipmates have made, with rough seas making the crossing a challenging, yet memorable experience.
The community will spend Christmas and the new year in Guyana, South America.
While Christmas Day will be a holiday, most other days over the festive period will be ‘business as usual’.
Renowned for offering literature at heavily-discounted prices in parts of the world where people may not get access to the variety of books available, Logos Hope regularly sees upwards of 10,000 visitors a day.
Her crew members also go ashore to join churches and charities in outreaches and aid projects.