Financing projects for disadvantaged children worldwide : The United Nations Annual International Bazaar 2016

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By Nataliya Borys


Music around the world.

The 22 November 2016 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva there was an annual United Nations bazaar’s event, presented as “one of the most significant events in the life of the UN community in Geneva.”[1] What is that, this international bazaar? Which is the goal of this bazaar? Can common people take part in it? Our reporter and editor-in-chief, Nataliya Borys, wanted to know more about this event and could participate in this bazaar as a journalist of GIMUN.


Would you try the traditional Arabic calligraphy?

Every year, the United Nations Women’s Guild (UNWG) in Geneva,[2] in collaboration with the Permanent Missions accredited to the United Nations, the Geneva government authorities and business community, organizes annually an International Bazaar and Lottery to raise funds for disadvantaged children or different charity projects around the world. Over the years, the Bazaar has become one of the most important events in the international community in Geneva by attracting more than 6’000 visitors and by raising approximately 300’000 CHF per event. International arts, crafts and foods stalls sell their wares and lottery tickets are on sale with over 200 prizes to be won.


Good humor and delicious food from Soudan’s stall.

How did all this start? All started in 1970, when a small group of women, most of whom had been active members of the United Nations Women’s Guild in New York, held a series of meetings to consider the desirability of founding a similar guild in Geneva. In 1971 the UNWG was created in Geneva. The Geneva Guild has the twofold aim of welcoming and forming a social and cultural center for women, who are “connected by work or relationship with the UN, the specialized agencies, the permanent missions to the United Nations and intergovernmental organizations with headquarters in Geneva” and of “assisting children in need throughout the world”. [3]


Moldova’s stall.

For the UNWG in Geneva, the Bazaar is an occasion to show and sell the UN countries’ production as the guild stalls are meeting points with UNWG members offering a good opportunity to learn more about Guild itself and talking with its members. Restaurant stalls are considered an international gourmet center where visitors can try many specialties from all over the world and prepared by the ladies of the missions (as the rule organized by the wives of the ambassadors).


Jewellery from Afghanistan.

Each year about 70 missions are supporting and participating in the Bazaar. However, the main goal of the bazaar is the fundraising for projects established by the UNWG. Fundraising, which began in 1972 in a school next to the Matutina Parc residence in Petit-Saconnex collecting about 16’000 CHF, has developed into the present Bazaar. Approximately 300 000 CHF is being regularly raised to be distributed to different children’s projects worldwide.

Among different projects funded in 2015-2016, the UNWG mentions Afghanistan’s Mina Foundation, whose goal is to train girls and young women in tailoring, literacy, English and computer skills. Funds are used to purchase computers, sewing machines, chairs, and books. Armenia’s Autism National Foundation supports the education and care of autistic children by assisting with the rehabilitation of an existing building and repairing the roof of its building. In Mauritius, the Gonzague Pierre-Louis Special Learning Centre is a school for disabled children and blind children. The project is to supply relevant equipment such as braillers, tablets and educational games. Each stand can collect money for projects, for instance in 2015 France collected around 5730 CHF during the bazaar by selling its good and food.[4]


First money: collected!

The organizers of the bazaar are satisfied with the success of their event. The Bazaar 2016 chairwoman, Eleonora Lucangeli Serra noted “the Bazar is a collective endeavor whose relevance depends on the wide and enthusiastic participation of member countries and donors from all regions of the world. The mission of the Bazar is, as we know, to help children in need, the most vulnerable of all human beings. We hope to be able, with our limited means but our convinced efforts, to contribute once more to this noble cause.”[5] Nehad Sukayri, the UNWG president feels happy “to work hard to bring happiness to children whose life is otherwise miserable. When I look at the pictures of children, who benefit from Guild’s projects, I feel that the efforts we exert for this noble objective are nothing as a price for a child’s smile, or as a humble contribution to creating the necessary environment for raising healthy and promising future.”[6]


I bought the last pot of Tchadian sheer natural butter.

So how I found the UN Annual bazaar 2016? First I would like to thank the UN representative of Ukraine for making me an invitation to access the bazaar. It was a pleasant experience to work with Ukrainian stand, and I can say their stall was one of the most interesting. Secondly, I was completely amazed by all these colorful stalls and delicious food. I regretted not to purchase some things immediately, as some stands ran out of their products and food very quickly.


Tchadian’s national craft.

The biggest rush was at the Iranian stall, where the dense crowd didn’t even let me have a look at their products. Iranian national craft such as the manually painted blue plates from Isfahan and small carpets were sold in a short lap of time. The same destiny waited for the Iranian food, the long queue formed at the Iranian food corner. I decided not to wait and purchased one of the last jars of natural sheer butter from Tchad. The Tchadian girl explained to me that all cosmetics were naturally made. I should have bought more!


Ukraine’s national craft and cat-pillows. So cute!

The Ukrainian stall was impressive with all Ukrainian craft including handy-broidered blouses and cat pillows. I fell in love with these cats; they can be a perfect gift for children! Afghanistan’s stall presented their jewelry. Obviously, I ran out of money for all these things. Hopefully, there was a cash machine in the hall. However, I was not the only one to run after the cash: the long queue was there too. Azerbaijan’s stall was also one of the best with their delicious food and nicely-smiling girl explaining about the Azerbaijani craft.


Tajikistan’s food.

My culinary love crash goes this year to Tajikistan! I tried its incredibly plov or pilaf[7] and picked up other pastries before it was over. I couldn’t resist to succulent dates from Oman’s stall and to Armenian dried fruits. Turkish stall prepared delicious coffee. My regret that time quickly passed away and this amazing multicultural experience was over.


Traditional dolls from Belarus.

In addition, I have some suggestions in mind. The first one is the gender issue. The bazaar is organized by the UNWG (United Nations Women’s Guild), a UN organization raising awareness about gender inequalities and improving women and girls empowerment. That’s why not only ambassador’s wifes and daughters should be supposed to cook and sale the craft at this event. Nowadays we should go over gender roles, especially here at the heart of the UN. Personality, I hope to see men too at the stands next year.


Tajikistan’s amazing carpets.

Moreover, this event is sadly accessible only by invitation, asking the embassies or writing the special mail to organizers in advance. As this is also a fundraising event, maybe it would be nice to duplicate this great concept and warm atmosphere into a more accessible place in Geneva ?


Azerbaijani national craft.

So, was it worth going and participating? Obviously, it was an inspiring moment and I would say a perfect place to dream about an ideal multicultural world where everyone welcomes you with a smile and makes you try something very delicious.


[2] United Nations Women’s Guild  –  Geneva,





[7] Pilaf is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth. In some cases, the rice may attain its brown or golden color by first being sauteed lightly in oil before the addition of broth. Cooked onion, other vegetables, as well as a mix of spices, may be added. Depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain meat, fish, vegetables, pasta, and dried fruits.

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