BEIRUT: A collection of wild bird photographs, brought by the Association for Bird Conservation in Lebanon, welcomed attendees on their way to the annual International Charity Bazaar on Sunday, December 1.
Organized by the Diplomatic Spouses’ Association of Lebanon, the International Charity Bazaar is an annual event that aims to raise money for charity and raise awareness on environmental issues.
Taking the theme of Christmas, the Bazaar offered holiday products from local NGOs and companies, such as Jellyfish, Green Hand organization, and Ecosouk, all of which are environmentally aware.
“Two years ago, we decided as Diplomats Spouses’ Association that we wanted to raise awareness for the environment everywhere in the world, but specially here in Lebanon,” said Marlous Vt Pad Bosch, a representative of the Diplomatic Spouses’ Association. “We told all the participants that we want to have no waste and no plastic packaging. We also asked them not to hand out plastic bags and to be conscious of what they use because it all goes somewhere. So we’re focusing on green Lebanese companies and green Lebanese NGOs.”
The two NGOs that were the beneficiaries of this Bazaar were Just.Childhood, and the Imam Sadr Foundation Papyrus Atelier.
Just.Childhood is an NGO that aims to help the children of Shatila Refugee Camp to have better access to education and the right to a childhood. According to their website, they offer a “safe space for learning and simply being a child on a continuous, reliable basis, and prepare them for school.”
Papyrus Atelier is a branch from within the Imam Sadr Foundation, which according to a representative in the Bazaar, is devoted to the empowerment of women through sustainable and eco-friendly production. They produce papers, bags, clothes, and notebooks, all hand-made and from recyclable material. Based in Tyr, they also produce biodegradable papers made from banana leaves. Since Tyr is highly rich in banana plantation, there’s a significant amount of bio-waste that emerges thus, Papyrus takes those left-overs and implements them into their products.
The international aspect of the event comes from the participation of several embassies in Lebanon, such as the Chinese, Ukrainian, Indonesian, and the Brazilian. The day was packed with shows that portray a multi-cultural Lebanon— all these different countries and cultures in one place. The embassies were also supporting the eco-friendly rule, with hand-made products that are specific to their country’s culture.
“As you can see all the performers want to show who they are and what they have to offer,” said Bosch about the embassies participating. "We repeat the performances every year because they are a very important part of the Bazaar.”
In addition to stands and shows, workshops were available to make the event children-friendly. The workshops offered arts and crafts classes and lessons about bees. Children were also taught about the different bird species that are native to Lebanon, and about the ones who migrate.
Outside the Grand Ballroom, children and adults alike found a funny-looking van with plants poking out. That was the mobile miniature botanical garden from Green Hand Association, whose main focus is to conserve flora biodiversity through engaging the community and keeping in mind the effects of climate change, as well as sustaining plant-based cultural heritage.
“We came up with the idea to make a mini botanical garden, and then we thought why not make it mobile and go everywhere [around Lebanon] to tell people about it,” said Zaher Radwan from Green Hand, after giving a brief lesson about native flora species in Lebanon to a group of young children, and their parents.
Established last year, and having become a patent project, the mobile botanical garden was nominated and selected within the Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Switzerland as the ultimate model for outreach in biodiversity. The entire van is eco-friendly, with a zero-emissions motor, solar panels, and a windmill at the back working together to make it move.
“We use used barrels, we try to use palettes, all recyclable materials just to showcase that you can use recyclable materials in landscape,” he added. “You can see 100 species from seashore to the highest altitude [in this van].”
In addition to the van, Green Hand had a stand in the Grand Ballroom where they promoted the products of their local farmers, who produce using the herbs presented in the van.
“With such positive energy that they’re involving [the Bazaar and organizers], it’s a great place to be and that’s the green energy we want to push forward,” said Radwan. “We love to be part of such events, and to make people grow more into the idea of such tailored events, where those that come really care.”
Just.Childhood received a total of 5,647,000 L.L. from the the rented stands. While Papyrus Atelier received 3,764,000 L.L. There is an extra amount expected to be added to these totals by donations from the Bazaar that will be given by this week, according to Bosch.
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