|Maria Seidl, Seoul International Women’s Association treasurer, helps run the Grand Raffle at last year’s SIWA Bazaar. (SIWA)|
Seoul International Women’s Association will host the annual SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar on Nov. 5 to raise money for local good causes.
More than 40 embassies and clubs will be joined by charities and individual vendors at the event to sell handmade products, cultural items and foods from around the world.
SIWA public relations and SNS chair Pilar Perez-McKay said that the bazaar raised about 100 million won ($90,000) each year, and this was distributed to about 30 charities, particularly those helping children and disabled people.
Among the causes assisted by SIWA last year, the money helped buy food for the homeless through Anna’s House, meals for students at Busan Study Room, and fuel for Maria and Martha’s House, a home for handicapped residents.
Perez-McKay said that the event was also a social highlight for SIWA.
“It’s a very big social event that brings us all together working for a common cause,” she said. “Sometimes it’s very difficult, sometimes we are all stretched because we are volunteers, but we are really committed to the bazaar and we give it all we can for this one day.”
Perez-McKay said the bazaar, now in its 43rd year, started small and then grew around the products that embassies could supply but were hard to come by in Korea.
“Now some of the products that the embassies bring are not as unique as they used to be because there are goods available that were not here 10 years ago, but it still creates a sense of fun and festival,” she explained.
“The ambassadors’ wives are there, usually dressed up in traditional costumes of their countries, and there is an international food court. You can just smell the aromas as you come in, and it is a lot of fun. It’s like a big party and of course all the money that gets raised goes to the charity.”
In addition to shopping, an Instant Lucky Draw and a Grand Raffle will offer prizes including a Persian carpet worth more than 3 million won, Korean traditional furniture, designer handbags and cosmetics.
Other activities are planned, including free wine tasting and beauty care.
More than 5,000 people went to the bazaar last year, and since its first outing in 1970, the annual event has raised more than 2 billion won.
The bazaar will take place at Seoul Museum of History, near Gwanghwamun Station, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org