Diplomats from over 40 countries raise funds for local charities in SG50 event

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the Mongolian embassy booth at the Diplomatic Charity Bazaar.
Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the Mongolian embassy booth at the Diplomatic Charity Bazaar. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Visitors at the Diplomatic Charity Bazaar.
Visitors at the Diplomatic Charity Bazaar. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A five-hour event organised by the diplomatic community on Saturday (Oct 24) saw international delicacies and handicrafts, as well as raffle tickets, being sold for a total of about $60,000.

The proceeds of the charity bazaar organised by the Diplomatic and Consular Corps will be distributed equally between the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and the Singapore Children's Society.

Resident diplomats from over 40 country missions in Singapore took part in the event, putting up booths to sell items ranging from Christmas decorations from the Philippines and jewellery from India to German pretzels and Colombian coffee - specially flown in for the day.

The estimated 4,000 visitors were also treated to 15 colourful cultural performances including dances from Tahiti, Maldives and Laos

The bazaar was attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his wife Joy. It was Dr Balakrishnan's first official engagement with the Diplomatic Corps since taking up his new role, and he said he was pleased with the diplomatic community's participation and the turnout.

"It just shows that although we're a small country, we're well plugged into the global circuit," he told the media.

"The diplomats who are based in Singapore obviously feel that their time here is meaningful, that their relationships built up amongst each other as well as with the local Singaporean community are things which they treasure."

It is the first time the Diplomatic & Consular Corps has organised such a large-scale event, with more than half of the 70 diplomatic missions here participating.

The diplomatic corps, headed by its dean, Brazilian Ambassador Luis Fernando de Andrade Serra, put together the Diplomatic Charity Bazaar in three months.

The organising committee was headed by Indonesian Ambassador Andri Hadi, and also comprised Chilean Ambassador James Sinclair and the High Commissioner of Bangladesh Mahbub Uz Zaman.

"It is remarkable to see so many nations gathered here today, actively cooperating and uniting for a noble cause," said Mr Serra in his welcome address at the Shangri-La Hotel, which sponsored the venue.

"I hope it will make a difference to the children being supported by the charities."

SPMF general manager Tan Bee Heong said that the money will go a long way in helping more than 14,000 beneficiaries supported by the charity.

"SPMF is privileged to be part of this very exciting event," she said. "It bears testament to the philantropic spirit of people around the world."

One of those who helped to put the bazaar together was Colombian Embassy secretary Angelica Celis, 31, who has lived here for seven years. The embassy was involved in the publicity working committee, and also flew in enough coffee beans for 3,000 cups of coffee to be pressed and sold at their booth.

The event was both about showcasing the multicultural scene of Singapore as well as helping children, said Ms Celis.

"(It's also about) being able to say we are all united to help, no matter whether a country seems to be rich or poor," she said.