By Miceál O’Hurley and Oksana Shadrina
In 2006, the wife of the then Ambassador of Pakistan to Ireland, Mrs. Hausheen Ahmad, organised the Diplomatic Corps in Ireland to host the first International Charity Bazaar (ICB). From helping the victims of a devastating earthquake in Pakistan in its first year to now assisting four Irish charities in its 14th year, the ICB has raised closing-on €1,000,000 for charitable causes and relief.
Today’s ICB has grown from an ad hoc effort to a professional organisation, having gained Charitable status in Ireland in 2011. In 2007, the spouses of diplomats residing in Dublin who organised the event each year decided to make it a permanent fixture on the Irish Diplomatic Corps’ social calendar and to designate all charitable proceeds to support Irish charities. Over the years, almost 40 Irish charities have benefited from the ICB with Childhood Cancer Foundation, Cottage Autism Network Wexford, COPE Galway and
Friends of the Elderly being the 2019 beneficiaries.
President Michael D. Higgins’ remarks at the 2013 ICB Diplomatic Ball captured the spirit of the activities well:
“The International Charity Bazaar is an inspiring example of a community spirit that is not limited by borders or nationality. The focus of the Charity Bazaar is to build and develop the relationship between the diplomatic and host communities in Ireland, recognising all that we share in common and celebrating the vibrant and multi-cultural dimension of the society in which we live and work.” – President Michael D. Higgins
In October, the Dean of the Irish Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, opened the 2019 ICB with a reception at the Apostolic Nunciature’s Residence for the Heads of Missions in Dublin. With the support of more than 50 Embassies and Irish friends in the local community, as well as immigrants from all over Ireland who travelled to the RDS to volunteer in support their Embassy’s fundraising efforts, the 2019 ICB was held at the RDS Industries Hall.
The multi-cultural displays of goods from each participating Mission’s booth filled the RDS on Sunday, 17 November 2019. With advanced ticket sales exceeding 3,000 and guests arriving throughout the day, Industries Hall was packed with people supporting charities through purchase of each Mission’s goods. Showing the significance of the ICB, Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Paul McAuliffe took time out of his Sunday schedule to attend the RDS, greeting participants and donors and personally thanking volunteers for their work in supporting Irish Charities.
The event was opened by the 2019 Chairperson, Her Excellency Olena Shaloput of the Embassy of Ukraine, and the Vice Chair, Hilda Arenas along with their fellow ICB Board members Maysoon Almazyed (Saudi Arabia), Saovanee Andrews (Australia), Siobhán Denham, Gavin Doherty, Nuala Johnson, Bontle Ntsoaole (Lesotho), Michael O’Donnell (Hon. Treasurer), Liubov Sichkar (Ukraine), and Jorma Wirén (Estonia).
With the concept “Experience the world in a day” the ICB, with its varied and unique mix of offerings from a wide variety of countries and cultures, provides a vivid and personal taste of the international community here in Ireland. The Bazaar showcased a cultural show with songs and dances from 11 countries. Goods and foods from over 50 nations were offered for donations to raise the funds the ICB provides to the annually selected Irish charities.
Mrs. Sabina Higgins, spouse of the President of Ireland, visited the event, taking particular time to visit each Misson’s booth and greet Ambassadors, Charges d’Affaires, dignitaries, volunteers and guests. Escorted by ICB Chairperson Olena Shaloput, Mrs. Higgins expressed her admiration for many of the national goods, especially unique, handmade crafts and expressed her appreciation to all of the volunteers who made the 2019 ICB possible.
Chairperson Olena Shaloput also took time to recognise the efforts of everyone involved, “While the Diplomatic Corps provides the backbone for the Annual International Charity Bazaar it could not be successful without the baking, sewing, carving, artwork and other goods crafted by the women and men who travel from throughout Ireland to help their Embassy raise money for these incredibly deserving Irish charities. I echo the remarks of Mrs. Higgins in paying tribute to everyone from Ambassadors to volunteers who sacrifice in making a commitment to help better our host nation of Ireland by supporter her charities”.
The ICB is also responsible for the annual Diplomatic Ball in Dublin. The proceeds from the Diplomatic Ball are also donated to Irish charities. The event provides the Diplomatic Corps an opportunity to socialise and build relationships that in turn not only help the ICB, but strengthen their personal relationships that further their diplomatic work.