CLAD in a hand-embroidered barong tagalog, Jireh Diaz struck a chord from the crowd during yesterday’s opening ceremony of MV Logos Hope in Cebu.
From the 400 multicultural crewmembers of the world-traveling ship, he is the only Filipino volunteer on board the largest floating bookfair.
When Diaz introduced himself during the parade of nation, the 23-year-old Cagayan de Oro native drew the loudest applause. For more than two years at sea, visiting different ports all over the world, the gesture warmed his heart. He felt back at home. Volunteering started for Diaz when he was 10.
The Information Technology graduate went aboard MV Doulos, operated by German charity group GBA (Good Books for All), together with his parents and younger brother.
The two-year trip to Africa, Europe and Asia made a life-changing impact on him.
“I was too young then, but it served as an eye-opener in learning the struggles of different people,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
The experience prepared him to understand whatever walk of life he was going to meet. Living and interacting with different cultures was a great learning opportunity for him.
“I promised then that I will go back someday. I want to bring hope, help and knowledge to the people of the world,” he said.
He went to study college in Manila, and six months after graduation, Diaz fulfilled his promise.
He went on board MV Logos Hope, also operated by GBA, in September 2012.
Fond of making and editing videos, he was assigned as the crew’s resident videographer. Each person on the ship is assigned a task and many people serve in their professional capacity, such as cooks, engineers and nurses. They work eight hours a day, five days a week. The volunteers raise their own financial support to cover their monthly living expenses, usually through gifts from home churches and other supporters.
Apart from selling books and offering other attractions inside the ship, the crew members also help in medical relief to different communities, build orphanages and donate books to underpriviledged children.
Diaz, who already had job offers here and abroad, was only supposed to volunteer for a year. But he extended his stay because he believed the project touches people’s lives day by day. “What keeps me from going back home is that special feeling of being able to transform people’s lives,” he said.