This year (2009) marked the United Nations Women’s Guild’s (UNWG) 39th year of existence as a non-profit organisation comprising mainly spouses of Ambassadors and Heads of the United Nations Office and other International Organisations based in Geneva.
Each year, the Guild organises a Bazaar event, which brings together the international community of Geneva, thus fostering a spirit of friendship and collaboration among them.
Accepting to chair the Guild’s 2009 Bazaar Committee was, for me, not an easy decision. At the time the President of the Guild first broached the idea, I was already President of the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Group in Geneva, and was therefore tasked with organising the African Charity Gala Night scheduled for June 2009. I must say however, that my decision was made easier by the encouragement and support of my husband, the Ambassador of Nigeria, and by the fact that the objective of the Bazaar seemed patently just to me and therefore well worth the sacrifice.
Upon accepting the responsibility, I immediately, in consultation with the President of the Guild, assembled a team of dynamic, dedicated and experienced women to constitute the Bazaar Committee. We worked tirelessly from May 2009, individually and in subcommittees, with the singular resolve of delivering a successful Bazaar in November 2009 as scheduled. This meant that even during the summer holidays, committee members were hard at work to achieve this goal.
I must confess that the Bazaar Committee had its moments of anxiety particularly with getting attractive prizes for the lottery from our usual sponsors. However, thanks to their persistence our donors came through for us and we were able to obtain sufficient prizes to back up our tickets sales for the lottery. Records indicate that the tickets sold were substantial, for which the lottery and distribution team deserve special commendation.
The theme chosen for the 2009 bazaar – “Every child needs a helping hand” – could not have been more appropriate. It suitably reflected both the vision and the mission of the Guild, which is mainly to reach out to the less privileged in societies, particularly children. I wish especially to commend the Publicity team for producing an excellent and timely Bazaar Brochure and posters.
A total of seventy-nine Permanent Missions participated in this year’s Bazaar by having either national or restaurant stalls or both. The Guild itself, as organisers of the event, had eighteen stalls in all. In terms of guests’ attendance, information available indicate that this year’s Bazaar attracted record participation, including staff of the UN Office, Permanent Missions and their families and other guests. All of these attest to the fact that the interest of the Geneva international community to continue to support the Guild’s Bazaar remained strong in spite of the prevailing global economic and financial situation.
As on previous occasions, the 2009 Bazaar was declared open by the Director-Genera of the UN Office in Geneva, H.E. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, ably assisted by his elegant wife, Mrs Elena Ordzhonikidze. For the first time in the history of the Bazaar, the Guild was honoured with the presence of the President of the Council of State of the Canton of Geneva, Mr. David Hiler and Mrs. Hiler, as well as other high officials from the government of the Canton of Geneva.
The highlight of the day’s proceedings was the lottery draw. It began promptly at 3 p.m. under the able supervision of the Lottery Chairwoman. The relevant Cantonal authorities were on hand to ensure compliance with State laws regarding lottery. The prizes on offer included two return business class tickets with Etihad Airways plus 5-nights’ stay in the Soneva Kiri Resort in Thailand, a one-year free use of a BMW car plus a BMW bicycle and a weekend stay for two at the Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, among others.
The Bazaar took place in a generally peaceful and festive atmosphere thanks to the efficiency of the UN Security Team. Equally noteworthy was the commendable role played by the Invitation and Protocol Sub- Committee, which collaborated, with the UN Security Team in a sustained and regular basis to ensure a hitch-free event.
In my opinion, the Bazaar was a resounding success, judging by the numerous compliments received from different visitors to the event. The Guild certainly owes this success to the support and generosity of the Permanent Missions, the cooperation of the concerned UN staff and the contributions of our numerous donors and sponsors worldwide, for which we are grateful.
I also wish to use this opportunity to extend our appreciation to the Director-General of the UNOG, H.E. Mr Sergei Ordzhonikidze and his wife, for their cooperation and support, as well as for the tremendous support we received from our host, the Swiss Mission, represented by the wife of the Swiss Ambassador, Mrs Marie-Paule Martinelli. Lastly I am grateful to the Bazaar Committee members for their loyalty and support, which made the work of organising the Bazaar a pleasurable and rewarding experience for me.