ALL roads led to the International School of Tanganyika (IST) recently where the Diplomatic Spouses Group (DSG) held its Annual Charity Bazaar with the aim of changing lives of the less privileged.
It was a hive of activity at the school as thousands of people from different walks of lives, thronged the venue to play a part in the historic event.
The place was overcrowded and one could be forgiven to mistake it for the Buguruni or Kariakoo market as people jostled to buy commodities on offer, whose proceedings were channelled towards charity. The only notable difference was the type of people doing the shopping as top dignitaries and executives formed the bulk of the customers.
Second-hand clothing, handcrafts, books, toys African attires and various other commodities were on display. Food lovers were not left out as different countries offered their traditional foods, giving the opportunity to those home-sick expatriates to have a feel of their delicacies.
Parking space was a problem and some people had no option but to park far away from the school and finish the journey on foot. This quickly describes the atmosphere at this year's bazaar, an event aimed at changing lives of the less privileged.
The Bazaar is a major fundraising event of DSG, supporting local initiatives which assist Tanzania's most vulnerable citizens, most often women and children, physically and mentally challenged. While officially opening the event, Asha Bilal, the wife of the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal, praised DSG for their life changing initiatives.
"The Diplomatic Spouses Group supports local initiatives that assist Tanzania's most marginalized in society -- women, children and the physically and mentally challenged. The Bazaar has been an enduring tradition for the DSG," she said before adding that the work of the Diplomatic Spouses is an example for all of us and so relevant to the challenges today around the world.
"The work of the DSG is exemplary. From empowering women in Kagera, inspiring the disabled to create world class craft in Iringa, providing education to pastoralist girls in Arusha, literacy to Masaai women in Simanjiro to supporting street children in Dar es Salaam and many others in society, the range and breath of DSG's impact and influence on our society is unparalleled."
She said the DSG's collective consciousness has been instrumental in practically transforming the society in an important way such as inspiring and giving vigour to communities they support. "The underlying principle of giving is that each one of us is charged with leaving the world a better place than we found it.
To do that we have to use all the resources that we are blessed with - our material and intellectual wealth, the power and position we may be occupying in the community, and our personal spiritual strength and courage to make hard decisions about our situations and conditions," Bilal said.
The DGS Chairperson, Juliana Parroni, who is the wife to the Switzerland Ambassador to Tanzania, Olivier Chave, while addressing the same gathering, said the Bazaar has a special place in the diplomatic calendar of Dar es Salaam, adding that it was an opportunity to raise awareness of different countries' handcrafts, food and culture as well as celebrating the traditions and culture of the host country.
According to her, last year's Bazaar raised over 73m/- used to support 16 NGOs throughout Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. "The DSG strongly emphasizes accountability and follow through. Project selection and grant monitoring is carefully done by a special committee. Our grants are small but carefully targeted," she said.
And, during an exclusive interview with the 'Daily News,' Parroni said that her organization targets projects with strong leadership, that are sustainable and that come from the community. "We don't fund individuals but NGOs through grants ranging between 5 to 15m/-.
And, we target those projects that are too small for donors because it's small groups that need support such as water projects, poultry projects for elderly women and so on," she said. She added that the money realized during Saturday's event will be disbursed by March next year, where the group will go through all applications and come up with eligible beneficiaries.
Parroni went on to thank all the organizations that supported the event before heaping praise on Mrs Bilal and other top dignitaries who graced the event. She also hailed ambassadors for their support towards this cause. She, however, urged Tanzanians to support the cause as many disadvantaged groups needed help. Asked for a comment, the Switzerland Ambassador to Tanzania, Olivier Chave, said the event is very useful as it goes a long way in helping the disadvantaged.
"We have always supported this event and we had to import our traditional food from Switzerland for this event. As you can see the food is being served at our pavilion. "Tanzania is united. The idea is to come together, so many cultures, languages to achieve a common objective," said Chave.
Last year's event benefited 15 projects and some of the recipients include Kidzcare, an orphanage based in Bagamoyo that had a security fence erected; classroom furniture bought for Loreto Girls' Secondary School based in Mwanza;
Emusoi Centre benefited through the purchase of text books and dictionaries for the pastoralist girls in Arusha; a street children supporting organization, Makini, based in Dar es Salaam was provided with most of their basic needs as well as art projects, recreational activities and basic nutrition;
Neema Crafts Centre that cares for disabled people was offered training and employment opportunities in Iringa and WomenCraft of Kagera was economically empowered for the benefit of artisanal women.
DSG is a non profit organization comprised of persons with diplomatic status in Tanzania and its mandate is to be a social and charitable organization which is non-political, non- governmental, and non-profit.