The first Charity Russian Gala Dinner
The “Russian Gala Pafos” became a remarkable event in the cultural and social life of Pafos. Its success exceeded all the expectations of the organisers: The Basilica Hall of the Elysium Hotel was packed full. The 320 guests participated in an entertaining and emotional programme, that finished just before midnight. Russians, Cypriots, British, all gathered round the hospitable Russian table to help their Russian friends build their very own church – a Russian Church that is so important to the life of the Russian community abroad. Friendship, laughter and joy reigned in the hall for a few hours: Russian, Greek and English languages mixing, it seemed like all the guests of the evening were one nation. But is there any wonder?! People that are doing a good thing together belong to the same mankind – their hearts and souls speak the same language.
The evening was organised by the Cyprus-Russian Association of Pafos, founded by Russians and Cypriots joining efforts in the field of education, business, politics and social work. The Association sees as its main goal bringing people together through getting to know each others’ traditions and cultures. And it is not accidental that the first event of the Association was the Charity Dinner to raise funds for construction of the first Russian church in Cyprus – there is nothing that brings people closer than a common good cause.
The Gala evening was held under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, with the support of the Russian Embassy in Cyprus. Assistance and support were offered by the Pafos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the “Russian Cultural Center”, the Municipality of Pafos, the Cyprus Ministry of Culture, The International School of Pafos.
At the entrance, the guests were welcomed by the Russian Fashion Theatre actors – real Russian beauties in traditional costumes. The programme began with a fine art exhibition and the sale of paintings by Cypriot artists. Light snacks, champagne and the enchanting sounds of the violin helped create an atmosphere of easy communication. Each and every event of the night was devoted to the main goal – raising funds for the church, but one of the most successful fundraisers was “Building a church together”: everyone was able to acquire a symbolic brick to build the church. One brick at one euro. All donors received a certificate of appreciation for their contribution.
The Dinner’s hosts, Paola Hadzhilambri and Kyril Drobkov, managed to make its official part anything but boring. The Cyprus-Russian Association President Olga Sozou told the guests about the objectives of the Association.
The Organisers and guests of the evening were addressed by the Minister of Communication Efthymios Flourentzos, who delivered a message from the President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, as well as the Cyprus Minister of Agriculture Sofoklis Aletraris, the Mayor of Pafos Savvas Vergas, the MP from the Socialist Party EDEK Fidias Sarikas, Aglandja’s (Nicosia District) Mayor Costas Costa, the head of “Russian Cultural Center” in Cyprus Alexei Rogalev and a representative of the main media sponsor Natalia Kardash.
It was a hard job for the speakers to hold the attention of the guests contemplating a rich Russian buffet. The Hotel’s Chef Dimitris Lazarou was at his best! “Herring under a fur coat,” Russian salad “Olivier”, stuffed eggplant – all the traditional Russian dishes! The pickles – cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, salted fish – were exceptionally good, lovingly prepared by the hotel cooks. I think every Russian guest remembered their grandmas and grandpas serving similar goodies to their grandchildren
The main courses were just as good: empanadas, chicken, Siberian dumplings, beef stroganoff, baked ham and stuffed pig – and those are only a few of the dishes. And just imagine an exclusive dessert table with “Napoleon” cake, “Pavlova”, “honey cake”, sweet pancakes and plenty of chocolate!
But the amazing Russian folk group ‘Ladanka” managed to distract the guests even from such mouthwatering food. Colorful costumes, live music and voices that didn’t need microphones, the energy, fun, and depth of the traditional folk songs, the Russian dances, all this made the night really unforgettable.
In due course, a charity auction and raffle took place to raise additional funds and to acquaint the guests with the best samples of traditional handmade crafts from various regions of Russia: Gzhel, Palekh, Pavlov Posad, etc.
The organizers would like to thank everyone who offered their help – they all invested their time, efforts and talents into strengthening our nations’ mutual friendship and love while helping to build St. Nicholas Russian church. We are very grateful to our main sponsors, that made the event happen: “Transaero” airlines, Alpha Mega supermarket chain and the “Bank of Cyprus». Our main media sponsor, “Vestnik Kipra” publishing deserves a special thanks.
The “Russian Gala Pafos” showed that our hearts are open to friendship, love and faith. We hope that the Gala will become an annual event as there is always be a need for a good deed!
© 2019 Cyprus Russian Association of Paphos