ASTANA – Astana’s annual Diplomatic Christmas Charity Bazaar will have more embassies than ever participating this year – 52 in all – and hopes to top the 19 million tenge (US$63,490) it raised last year through entrance fees, raffle tickets and sales, says chair of the organising committee for the bazaar Sophia Bakuridze, spouse of Georgian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Zurab Pataradze.
The charity bazaar, held annually in Astana’s Radisson Hotel, gathers the diplomatic community to raise money for a variety of individuals and organisations around the country through the 200 tenge (US$0.65) entrance fee and sales of goods donated by the embassies, mostly representing their traditional products and strengths. Baskets of traditional goods put together by embassies are a standard raffle prize, with larger items sold at the different nations’ kiosks at the bazaar.
Last year, funds were distributed to 34 projects, Bakuridze reports, including the Association for Haemophilic Children, active in Astana and other regions; the Society of Diabetic Children; SOS Children’s Villages in Almaty and Temirtau; the Karitas School; schools for children with disabilities; homes for children; rehabilitation centres; and training centres for women who have experienced abuse, Bakuridze said. Money was also donated to pay for medical treatment and educational fees for individuals in need, she said.
The organisers have tended to focus on supporting the health, education and quality of life of children, Bakuridze said. “We have short-term objectives and we have long-term objectives. The short-term objectives are about providing support to individuals or groups who need urgent care – about medical treatment, or medication or assistance during the winter, like help with heating, food or clothes. The other direction, the long-term objectives, are funding for educational needs, or we take care of special lessons for children with disabilities, or training classes.”
The charity committee of the group that organises the bazaar is currently looking for recipients for the new year, Bakuridze said. “We are open for any proposals about any charity or any charity project,” she explained. They are looking in particular to expand into the regions as much as possible. Last year, the bazaar funded projects in Pavlodar, Akmola, Karaganda, Atyrau and Almaty.
Organisations can contact the charity committee online, and the charity committee has also sent request forms to embassies soliciting suggestions as to projects or individuals who are in need of support, Bakuridze said. Organisations can be local or international, she notes, and all organisations are vetted carefully by the group before they are funded.
“The good thing is that our charity committee contains representatives from [all regions of the world]; it’s very international,” Bakuridze noted. “It’s very transparent; the main thing is that it is very transparent. … We vote, we discuss the plusses and minuses, we go, we see [projects], we see how they work.”
Raffle tickets are already on sale and will be sold at Khan Shatyr Nov. 14–15. After that, they will be available until the afternoon of the event. There are 6,000 tickets for sale, and they hope to sell all of them. Bakuridze is enthusiastic about the prizes, noting that in addition to the traditional baskets, they include jewellery, electronic appliances like mobile phones, restaurant gift certificates, and the major prizes like trips to Georgia, Macedonia, Dubai and the Czech Republic. “We have really good sponsors this year, so it will be really interesting,” she said.