NUR-SULTAN – “I am near Switzerland! Let’s meet in Iraq in ten minutes,” is a sentence that would make sense only if one could time travel or visit the 12th annual Diplomatic Christmas Charity Bazaar Dec. 1 at Radisson Hotel Astana in Nur-Sultan.
The bazaar brought a little something from 53 countries represented by embassies in Kazakhstan. The visitors, for example, could buy Indian chicken curry, Mongolian wool socks, Spanish wine and Georgian churchkhela – all in one place.
“You can feel the culture of every country. It is so interesting to plunge into it and feel it. To see their cuisine, their national clothes, traditions that they convey through this bazaar,” a visitor Saltanat Turlabekova told The Astana Times.
The bazaar became a good tradition for many. Assel Zhanbulatova, who helped run the raffle from the British Embassy, has been visiting the event for the last eight years.
“That is a mini gastronomy tour around the world in an hour or two. I think this kind of event is very rare. And I like that people gather here and talk to each other. Although it is in their small circles, anyways it is an interesting social event. And of course it is for a good cause – all money go to the charity,” said Zhanbulatova.
There were also stalls from schools, organisations such as the United Nations, companies such as Kunde social café, Dom Mamy (Mother’s house) fund that provides support for young mothers, among other small local companies.
In addition to a cultural exchange, the bazaar offered the spirit of Christmas and New Year. The decorated trees, Santa Claus, or rather Joulupukki performed by the Finnish Ambassador Mikko Kivikoski, gingerbread houses and Christmas tunes created the atmosphere.
The Ambassadors Spouses Astana (ASA) Association has been organising this event since 2008 to raise money for charity. The association uses the funds raised to support projects that make positive changes in the daily lives of low-income families, children with disabilities from all parts of Kazakhstan.
“You get such a great joy just from the fact that by buying things you are doing charity. I’d like to say a big thanks to the organisers,” said Turlabekova.
The bazaar raised approximately $97,692 in 2018 and $92,994 this year.
“People are buying and buying everything. I think today there are more people than last year,” said ASA President Luzia Sebesta Schmid.
A part of the bazaar’s fame is the annual Grand Raffle that offered a Lada Granta car provided by the Russian Embassy, travel vouchers to numerous destinations, luxury accommodations and designer clothes among 231 prizes from the bazaar’s 87 sponsors.
This year the association printed out 10,000 raffle tickets that were sold out. Some people came from other cities to participate.
It was also a chance to increase the public awareness about being environmentally responsible. The organisers provided sorting bins for plastic, paper and food waste. The British Embassy in Kazakhstan gave first thousand people “No plastic it’s fantastic” cotton bags to do shopping.