Holiday Bazaar showcases crafts by St. Louis immigrants - KMOV.com

Holiday Bazaar showcases crafts by St. Louis immigrants

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The International Institute of St. Louis hosts their 3rd annual Holiday Bazaar. Credit: KMOV The International Institute of St. Louis hosts their 3rd annual Holiday Bazaar. Credit: KMOV
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

The International Institute of St. Louis hosts their 3rd annual Holiday Bazaar. It's a weekend long event of 25 vendors from different countries selling handmade items from their native countries.

All of the vendors have re-settled to St. Louis from foreign countries, including African nations, Asia and the Middle East.

"I came to the U.S. 1 year and 6 months [ago]," said Haithem, one of the vendors from Aleppo, Syria. He is selling handmade soap that he learned how to make in his home country. "This soap I make from olive oil and coconut and castile oil," said Haithem, "And for smell I put rosemary."

Some of these re-settled immigrants have businesses in St. Louis already. However, the newer immigrants use the Holiday Bazaar as a chance for their first business exposure. The International Institute gives these vendors funds to help kick start their new business. 

While these entrepreneurs come from different countries, they also have different motivations for making a profit.

"I'm selling products from Uganda made by women in Uganda from my village, my community," said Janet Kagoda, who is selling handmade wooden sculptures, woven drums and baskets and hand-sewn dolls.

All the profit she makes from the Holiday Bazaar she is sending back to the women in her Ugandan village to go specifically towards their education.

"That is my goal, that is my dream. If I can take two girls to school that is good enough for me," said Kagoda. 

By selling handmade items, these St. Louis immigrants are giving back to the city that has given them a new home.

"Nothing machine made. It's me embarrassing you and we are all together, so when you buy that [doll] you are shaking my hand because I made that," said Kagoda.

The Holiday Bazaar runs Saturday, December 2 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, December 3 from 10am-4pm in the gymnasium of the International Institute on Louisiana & Arsenal. 

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