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Out and About

IWC Winter Bazaar Breaks All Records
Text and photos John Harrison

On the 27th of November, the IWC held its 27th Winter bazaar at the Radisson Slavyanskaya. Actually the hotel was taken over by the IWC for the day. Expecting the event to occupy the usual one large hall, I was staggered to find that this year’s bazaar stretched over no less than two vast halls and three large rooms where the food was laid out.

This wasn’t a jumble sale, with cups of tea served in plastic cups held on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Here one could sample and buy delicious food from literally all over the world, made by real people from each country, who are temporary resident in Moscow. Here, for humble fees, you could sample and buy Hungarian “pogacsa” (scones) and apple pie, handmade by Hungarian ladies in true traditional style; traditional Italian LaLasagna (Bolognese, al Pesto and vegetarian), “Pasta al forno”, Christmas desserts and cookies, and Tiramisu. Here you could scoff real Canadian maple syrup, Columbian Tamal with hot chocolate, stuffed potato, coffee and natural juices and other interesting small dishes, and about ten thousand other dishes.

The two halls selling items offered an awe-inspiring display of goods, people and languages. For example, in one corner of the hall there were leather goods from Madagascar, Montenegro wines, Columbian coffee, Estonian umbrellas and so on. All served with a smile and a contagious inner warmth which I sometimes feel when I am in the presence of people who are doing something truly good. I bought most of my Christmas presents in one morning, at a price which I could handle, Buying presents for the family in Moscow is something I never look forward to.

The facts and figures speak for themselves:

3158 guests, up from 2748 in 2009. Proceeds increased substantially over last year.

The event was organised by only 6 people, and some 60 volunteers who were mainly IWC members, their friends and families.

The stands were managed and manned by some 650 volunteers from 60 Embassies, 4 associations and 3 sponsors, who sold their traditional and typical goods, which were mainly imported by them for the bazaar. Everybody worked on a voluntary basis.

Where does the money go? Proceeds go to a whole range of people-orientated charities. The IWC’s plan includes the following areas: nourishing the homeless in and around Moscow through soup kitchens, provision of emergency funds on a case-by-case basis, food, clothing and supporting a rehabilitation project. They also work in orphanages, in particular by preparing children and young people for an independent life by providing them with clothing, school materials and specialised training.

In hospitals, the IWC funds specialized medical supplies and equipment. In 2010, the IWC additionally provided a number of hospitals with prostheses and food to individuals. The IWC continues to help its “Star Ball Kids”. These are amputees who are provided with artificial limbs, given payment for treatment, transport costs and medical help.

Support for deprived children attending day care centres is provided by supplying food support and educational and social activities, such as computer and English lessons, arts and crafts lessons and independent lifeskill projects. Very poor foreign students and needy families are helped on a case-to-case basis. Women and girls recently released from detention centres are helped to retrain and reintegrate into society.

In addition to all of these causes, the IWC Donations Office distributes reusable clothing, furniture, household items and toys to projects that need them.

The IWC does not seek headline news, preferring to get on with the job. But the group does make the point that expats, the female half at least, are not a miserly group, given a framework within which to organise.

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