International Women’s Club of Moscow starts its new season
The IWC is the largest women’s club in Moscow and is open to all expatriate women and men residing in Moscow. The purpose of the IWC is to promote friendship, to further cultural activities among women of all nationalities residing in Moscow and to raise funds to be donated to charitable activities. The IWC runs a busy schedule of coffee mornings, monthly general meetings, charities general meetings, fund-raising events and other special events. Together with Interest Groups, the meetings and events provide the members with lots of opportunities to meet new people and explore life in Moscow. You can become an IWC member at www.iwcmoscow.ru/general-meetings.html (general meetings) or www.iwcmoscow.ru/coffee-mornings.html (coffee mornings). The annual membership fee is RUR 2200. The membership season runs from September through August, but it is possible join at any time. Guests are welcome but must pay a RUR 250 guest fee and cannot join any IWC interest groups unless they are a paid-up club member.
PASSPORT met with Anu Trigunayat, the current IWC President who is from India.
How long have you been with IWC?
This is my 2nd time in Moscow as my husband got posted here for the 2nd time as a part of the diplomatic mission of India. We were here ten years ago. I was involved with IWC of Moscow back then. This is my 2nd time on the Steering committee. I have been involved with different charity groups in different countries where we got posted.
I was elected President of IWC of Moscow in June 2011 for 2011-2012 term. This is one of the biggest clubs in the world. In a lot of other countries IWCs are generally social forums for getting together and to have fun. IWC of Moscow is one of the few which is heavily involved in community work through different kinds of charitable events.
How big is the IWC of Moscow? What are your key events throughout the year?
We have over 750 members. The numbers keep increasing every day. Just to give you a little background of how the organization is run. We have an IWC President along with 2- 3 Co-Presidents working together. With them there is also a Steering Committee which has different chairs: Fundraising, Donations Office, Members Registration, Public Relations, General Officer, Treasurer, General Meeting Coordinator, etc. It is a hard work as it is not easy to run a group of 750+ members, however it is rewarding. We have monthly General meetings and we try to do something international every month. For the past 20 years traditionally we have our first General Meeting of the year to sign up for IWC membership at the Spaso House, the residence of the US Ambassador.
The IWC organizes two major fund-raising events each year in support of our charities: the Winter Bazaar, and the Embassies of the World Dinner and Ball. Both have become highlights of the Moscow social calendar.
We have on-going charity projects. Our Charity Chair along with the Charity Board work together to manage and execute charitable initiatives.
What attracts people about IWC?
One of the most important features that attract lots of expats and Moscow residents to the IWC are interest groups. We have more than 19 interest groups. If you want to learn icon painting or sculpture or you would like to join the architecture walks or Bible studies group you can sign up to all these Interest groups as long as you are a member. You can find a whole list here: www.iwcmoscow.ru/fulllist.html. I invite all ex-pat ladies to join as it is not only a social club but also it is a way of getting help to get adjusted in a new country. We have Newcomers coffee meeting that we hold almost every week where we distribute special booklets that provide some sort of a guideline about living in Moscow.
Could you highlight some of your charity support projects?
We have lots of ongoing projects for charity as well as onetime ones. To highlight a few: we have a special project to support children who suffered from burns. Not only they need physical support but also emotional and psychological so we organize puppet shows for them to make them feel happy and to show a brighter side of life.
We provide support for one orphanage part of a convent where the nuns take care of 35 girls. We give money for the meals and cleaning materials. We supply arts and crafts materials for Mother Teresa Home for Orphans for mentally challenged children and children with physical disabilities. There are a lot of foreign students in Moscow who really do not have enough money to support themselves. We provide them with free lunches on Sundays. We also do not forget about elderly people who very often to do not have anyone to look after them. We organize soup kitchens for them serving almost 200 meals a day for five days a week. So I would say the focus of our charity activities is multidimensional. It covers everyone from children to elderly people.
If we decide to help a charity, we require a full report from the organization as to how the money will be spent, and closely monitor the funds after we allocate them. It is vital for the transparency of our finances and our records.
Who helps IWC in this honorable activity?
Clearly we would have been able to run our charity events without our sponsors and the help of our volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity and thank all our sponsors. Our biggest sponsors are the Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel where we hold our Winter Bazar every November (this year it will held on November 26th from 10am till 4pm); the US Dental Care, several businesses that provide us with gift cards and vouchers. I also would like to thank all the Ambassadors and their wives who opened their doors for us to hold our events, such as the Embassy Dinner Ball.
And last but definitely not the least I want to express my deepest appreciation to our loyal pool of volunteers who work around the clock to make things happen. I am truly amazed at their dedication. Without them we would not have been able to pull these events together.
What is it that you like about living in Moscow?
I love Moscow. I love the drive over the bridge where you can see the Kremlin; I love the Tretyakov Gallery, Old Arbat, Ismailova market, little cafes. I think Moscow is just an awesome place to live. The subway is a real work of art. Everyone who is new to Moscow should take time to explore some of its stations. Moscow has changed a lot and for better in the past ten years. I personally rate Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and have special place in my heart for Russia.