ISLAMABAD         -        The Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association (PFOWA) held its annual charity bazar here on Sunday, providing diplomats a platform to raise funds for underprivileged segments of their community.

First Lady Samina Alvi inaugurated the bazar held at the lawns of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), where families of diplomats set up stalls showcasing their respective national and cultural diversity.

The ministry’s flagship event was meant to raise  funds to support the families of its low-income staffers in the field of education, health and social welfare.

The First Lady in her address said caring for others made better human beings and appreciated the joint efforts of diplomatic corps for a noble cause.

She expressed satisfaction that PFOWA, founded by its first patron Shaista Ikramullah on the recommendation of Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan in 1947, was effectively continuing with the legacy of philanthropy.

She said besides fund-raising, the plurality at the bazar presented a colourful kaleidoscope of arts, culture and cuisine that cultivated bonds of harmony among the participating countries.

Samina Alvi also apprised the audience of  her social work of over two decades mainly focusing provision of education and clean drinking water to underprivileged sections of society.

She also highlighted the importance of raising awareness about breast cancer, saying that early diagnosis could save the lives of thousands of women in the country.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood said it was heartening to see the diplomats along with their spouses joining hands for an act of benevolence.

He said that the endeavours aimed at making difference in the lives of underprivileged was the ethos of foreign service.

President PFOWA Mahwish Sohail in her welcome address said the charity bazar not only proved an opportunity for the international community to display their cultural montage, but also to share a common goal of social welfare.

PFOWA’s Patron Mehreen Qureshi said the Association had a 72-year-old remarkable history of volunteer work for uplift of the needy families of diplomatic corps. 

The Charge d’Affaires of China’s Embassy presented a cheque of Rs one million to the President PFOWA.

Earlier, First Lady Samina Alvi visited various stalls set up at the bazaar and evinced keen interest in the unique artefacts from all over the world.

An auction of cricket memorabilia including two bats and two balls signed by Prime Minister Imran Khan was also held, the proceeds of which went to the PFOWA charity fund. 

The children of diplomatic staffers clad in traditional outfits took the stage in a ‘Parade of the Nations’ and presented tableaus while waving national flags of their countries.

The song and dance performance of the Kashmiri artistes was highlight of the occasion that depicted how the innocent people of the Valley were witnessing dark time of their lives under the over-three month seige by the Indian occupation security forces.

The PFOWA bazaar enthralled the visitors with a mix of cultural and culinary experiences from different countries.

The participating countries included China, Russia, Azerbaijan,  Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, Central Asian states, Malaysia, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine,  Yemen and several others.