Eun Hai Kim: To reach high goals during difficult times

The IWC Bazaar will be a multicultural event with the participation of  25 embassies that will have their booths that display and sell packaged food, gifts, arts and crafts items and other products unique to their culture.

On the occasion of the 19th IWC Charity Bazaar, we spoke with the International Women’s Club president, Ms Eun Hain Kim, who talked about challenges in this difficult time, and the importance of working together to help those who are in need.

Photo: Eun Hai Kim, President of International Women Club – IWC Serbia

IWC Charity Bazaar, which counts a 19th yearly edition this month, is famous in Serbia. Do you feel proud of its success, and what goals have you reached since the beginning of this charity event?

IWC Charity Bazaar has been one of the most anticipated events in Belgrade. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were forced to have a two-year hiatus. Even for this year’s bazaar, there was still uncertainty that we would be unable to celebrate our traditional bazaar in December and in a big venue. Therefore, the IWC board decided to move the date of the bazaar from December to October 16th.

I am proud of the immense amount of support we have received from IWC members, local businesses, and embassies. The Hyatt hotel generously allowed us to use their location as the venue and many embassies have confirmed their participation. The Embassies will participate with sale tables, cultural performances and through donations for the raffle. Through this solidarity and collaboration, we are excited to embark on this philanthropic endeavor.

In previous years, IWC has collected approximately 650,000 euros and donated the funds to non-governmental charities that support vulnerable populations throughout all of Serbia. We are very fortunate to have people’s trust that their donations will help others in need.

The 19th IWC Charity Bazaar will be held on Sunday Oct. 16th at Crystal Ballroom Hyatt Hotel from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm with guest of honor Professor Dr. Darija Kisic, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and master of ceremonies will be Ivana Vucicevic from Studio B.  The funds raised at this charity bazaar will go to support Serbian communities that have been affected by the Covid- 19 pandemic.

This year we created a Social Work Activity Group to assist and support people in need with activities

The IWC Bazaar will be a multicultural event with the participation of  25 embassies that will have their own booths that display and sell packaged  food, gifts, artistic and craft items and other products unique to their culture. In addition, there will be an exciting Cultural Program from 11:00 am until late afternoon, featuring music, children’s choirs, and traditional dances from participating countries. A raffle will be held with more than 150 valuable prizes, including gift baskets from embassies and other entities. Entrance tickets are 300 dinars each and raffle tickets 250 dinars each. All Belgrade residents and visitors are invited to come to browse the booths, enjoy the multicultural entertainment and maybe even win a raffle prize.

Charity Bazaar is not the only charity activity that IWC organizes. Can you tell us about other charity events?

IWC is host to many different charity events and I can proudly say is a very active member of the Serbian community. Just to give a few examples of the different types of endeavors -, IWC published a book titled “Belgrade through the Eyes of Foreigners”. This is a collection of stories from our foreign members that describe their favorite places in Belgrade and why they hold a special place in their lives. We printed 1000 books and we have few books left to be sold.

Chic for Charity is another successful event that IWC held during the pandemic. It was a silent auction event with a goal to give old clothes a new life. IWC members, many local designers participated by donating gently worn, high-end, designer women’s clothes for this event.

This year we created a Social Work Activity Group to assist and support people in need with activities. These activities include spending time with elderly people in their retirement home or baking cupcakes with children in orphanages to share a little light, joy and hope to people in need within our community.

Do the increase in the number of charity events globally shows that modern society feels more compassion, or maybe, we just have more people in need? What do you think about it?

The pandemic highlighted the need for charity events as people all over the world were affected economically, emotionally, physically, and more. Charity events became even more necessary after the pandemic considering charitable organizations were unable to operate normally. Therefore, it seems that the number of people in need has unfortunately increased and IWC is committed to helping as much as we can.

In addition to the pandemic, we have lived through historical events. For instance, the war in Ukraine has also increased populations in need. This is the time to recognize our privilege and be grateful for what we have while acknowledging how we can help. I think It is easy to think it is someone else’s problem if you are not being directly impacted. However, considering there is so much happening in the world, it is important now more than ever to help others.

What exactly is IWC? What kind of organization is it, and who participates?

The International Women’s Club (IWC) of Belgrade is a registered non-profit volunteer based organization.  The club was established 30 years ago and officially registered in 2011. IWC offers unique opportunities to our members for personal growth through many comprehensive programs, classes, community services, cultural and intellectual activities and social connections. Our members are from the diplomatic community, expats and distinguished Serbian ladies. Currently we have 130 members from 40 different countries.

What was your main challenge when you became the president of IWC in May this year?

My main challenge has been leading the organization to reach our high goals during difficult times in the post-pandemic world. Now that the dust is settling, there are many new issues that IWC wants to bring awareness to.

For instance, Breast Cancer Awareness is extremely important. We want to empower women to take charge of their health by being aware of the importance of early detection. IWC is hosting for the first time Breast Cancer Awareness Event with the support of our generous hostess HRH Princess Katherina on Oct. 19th at White Palace. We are also privileged to have as a guest of honor, Professor Dr. Danica Grujicic, Director of the Institute of Oncology and Radiology and a presentation from Acibadem Bel Medic and University Clinical Center of Serbia. Loreal will join the world in going pink to support this event.

I want to create a collaborative and fun environment that all IWC members enjoy

I would also love to raise awareness of environmental issues, specifically the dangers of single use plastics. Plastic products have become one of the most common household items and while they can be useful, it harms us and the environment because of its inability to degrade safely.  I wish to organize educational talks that highlight the dangers of single use plastic, as well as to promote sustainable consumer habits to make more environmentally conscious decisions everyday.

For my tenure as president of IWC, these are important goals to accomplish. However, on an internal basis, I want to create a collaborative and fun environment that all IWC members enjoy. It is important to work together as a team but enjoy our time together while we work hard. I will be satisfied if IWC members feel empowered during my presidency.

How important are IWC Coffee Mornings? What kind of activities are presented there?

IWC holds monthly Coffee Mornings with different themes to promote the multicultural background of our members. The Coffee Morning is where our members are introduced to other cultures and traditions  as well as the host country. We highlight our similarities and differences over coffee or tea and traditional dishes from different countries.

Likewise coffee Mornings also serves as a platform to meet and welcome newcomers to help settle down, share experiences, and useful information about living in Belgrade. IWC coffee morning is a place where multicultural and diverse IWC members feel Belgrade as a sweet home.

As an artistic soul, could you say that Belgrade is inspiring?

I lived in Belgrade from 1991 to 1994. It was a complicated time that my husband and I shared with the people of then Yugoslavia. Now that I have returned, I am enjoying this historical city in a different state.

Belgrade is transforming into a modern city but still there are places I can picture myself 30 years ago.  It gives me a lot of nostalgia  to see some of the streets and neighborhoods that haven’t changed much even though it’s been a long time since I was here.

Upon my arrival for the second time,  the first place I visited was Belgrade City Gallery. It was a surreal experience. Belgrade City Gallery is located behind the remains of the Belgrade site that was bombed in 1999. I thought this an interesting location for such a modern art exhibit. I think it captures the juxtaposition of the city where history acts as a background for new art to flourish. It also captures and highlights the resiliency of Belgrade and its citizens.

But the most important element in Belgrade is its people. Serbian people have not changed and they remain vibrant and friendly with foreigners. I feel home in Belgrade.

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