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The Last Word

Inguna Penike
Wife of the Latvian Ambassador, President of the International Womens Club of Moscow
Talks to Alevtina Kashitsina
Photos Alevtina Kashitsina

Inguna, how long have you been in Moscow?

My family my husband, my daughter, son and myself - came to Moscow two years ago when my husband was appointed Ambassador to Russia.

Is it difficult to live away from home?

Moscow was not a totally unknown place to me as I had been here on several occasions in Soviet times. So I have the great opportunity to see and appreciate the immense changes that had taken place since then.

You speak Russian so well!

I try to encourage everybody to learn the Russian language, because it will help us to better understand the treasures of the Russian culture, and open the way to the hearts of the Russian people.

You have made a wonderful career You are a President!

The IWC of Moscow was initially founded with two main purposes. The fi rst was to help people in need in and around Moscow. The second was to integrate women into life in Moscow, and allow them to make new friends.

So was I integrated. From my fi rst day here I have been a member of the IWC. Up to now I took a passive interest in the activities of the organization. But this year it happened that Carmen [Carmen Casey (Ireland/Argentina)], Nubia [Nubia Perone de Meyer (Uruguay)] and myself have come together to share the responsibilities of leading this organization. And I hope that there will be even more dynamism and different initiatives this year.

IWC is seriously involved with charities

Correct. Within the IWC there exists a group of 15 people to work on the numerous charities that the organization is involved with in Moscow. And certainly the work would be impossible without our volunteers, of whom we now have 130. And as for the projects themselves, they are normally related to assisting children, elderly people and all those who need help. Thus, our co-ordinators work on baby houses, children at risk, orphanages, internats, detention centers, foster families and hospitals for the elderly, the disabled and street people.

There must be some charity funds Where do they come from?

IWC has two main fund-raising activities, the Winter Bazaar and the Embassies Dinner and Ball. Both events donate 100% of their funds to IWC charities. These are the funds that are used to subsidize IWC charity work for the following year. That is why we try our best to hold those events at a high level.

Compared to earlier times when was it more difficult to raise the funds?

I can say confi dently that now more people simply give donations, and more enterprises spend money on charity. This is a good sign. I am pleased to notice that social responsibility really becomes life.

Tell us more about the charity events the IWC organizes.

The Winter Bazaar takes place in December. The embassies can promote products of their countries, and the public can buy beautiful Christmas and New Year presents from the vast choice of handicrafts, clothes, jewels, souvenirs, beverages, traditional food and many other exciting things. This time, for example, we had 5000 visitors!

What about the Ball? I know the IWC is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008?

You are right. On the 9th of February there will be a Ball at the Tsaritsyno Grand Palace. Unfortunately I cannot unveil the program of the evening but I can promise that this evening is going to be full of surprises. Along with invitations to embassies, we sell tickets, thus we make it possible for our guests to easily participate in charity themselves.

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