Thousands flock to charity bazaar

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Thousands flock to charity bazaar

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Visitors to the 53rd SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar at Lotte Hotel Seoul shop on Monday for tableware. [SEOUL INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION]

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) held its annual charity bazaar on Monday at Lotte Hotel Seoul in Jung District, attracting thousands of local and international visitors to its aisles of homemade food, antiques, handmade crafts and clothing from countries worldwide.

Some 35 embassies and dozens of other charity groups, local companies, women’s clubs and sponsors took part in the 53rd annual SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar.

Hosted by Seoul’s largest international women’s organization, the annual event has raised more than 2 billion won ($1.73 million) since 1970, with most proceeds going to support the underprivileged.

Proceeds from this year have yet to be calculated.

For Sarah Bile, the wife of the Ivorian ambassador to Korea, participating in the bazaar was a wonderful opportunity to help the underprivileged, a “kind of contribution for an important cause.”

Pointing to the scarves, tablecloths, bags and jewelry from her home country, the former executive secretary of the African Development Bank boasted that the goods provided a great promotional opportunity.

“You can’t find these kinds of things here. They’re all handmade and specially brought from Cote d’Ivoire,” Bile said. “I thought foreigners and Koreans would be particularly interested in our colorful products because fabrics are very important to Africans.”

Shameem Akhter, the wife of the Bangladeshi ambassador, said she chose earrings, necklaces, bracelets, lanterns and other goods - “all handmade” - to raise awareness for her home country among people here.

“I wanted people to grow familiar with Bangladesh, and the goods from our country,” Akhter said. “Many different countries brought their main products here, so I thought it would be a great chance to showcase ours, all the while raising money for the needy.”

Susan Mackey, who came from South Carolina, said she spent some 300,000 won on various goods during the day-long event, most of which went toward a 250,000 won celadon vase she bought for a close friend; she also bought salt and a necklace from Israel, jam and candy from Germany and cookies from the Middle East.

“I talked to a lot of people and researched a lot [before making my purchases], so I’m confident I got the vase at a good price,” she said. “This is my second time at the bazaar and I love looking around at all the interesting stuff. I also enjoy Instagram, so I posted the interesting pictures I took here, like some costumes and performances.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN
[lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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