Holland America Fighting Illiteracy in Papua New Guinea

Odyssey Middle School students from Bainbridge, Washington, delivered over 400 books to Holland America Line’s ship the Westerdam last week for delivery to a literacy library in Papua New Guinea, according to a press release.

The project began in 2019 when a parent who works in travel discovered a Holland America Line itinerary that allowed books to be transferred to Papua New Guinea. Getting the books there had previously been a major challenge, but when the Westerdam set sail for a 36-day voyage from Seattle to Sydney, with stops in Papua New Guinea, it was brought to life, to help fight illiteracy in the country, according to Holland America Line.

“We didn’t know how to get (the books) there… so this has saved us so much money but wow, at the same time the kids can come and experience this in a way that is tangible for them,” said Mere Sovick, executive director, Melanesian Women Today.

Nine students joined the captain and crew of the Westerdam late last week to deliver the books, learn about the ship, talk about their mission and learn more about how their donation will arrive in about a month.

The Holland America Line vessel just finished a season of roundtrip sailing from Seattle to Alaska and is now making its way across the South Pacific to Sydney, where it will offer a season of Australia and New Zealand itineraries. The Westerdam will cruise to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, China, and the Philippines in early 2023 before returning to Seattle for another Alaska season in May.

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