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Camp Lemonnier Bazaar Connects Djiboutian Artists, Vendors with U.S. Military Members

05 May 2023

From Lt.j.g. Victoria Piccoli

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (May 8, 2023) – U.S. military members shopped, engaged, and connected with local Djiboutian artists and vendors during Camp Lemonnier’s biannual bazaar, May 6.
The bazaar raised $51,113 U.S. dollars in proceeds that go directly to the local artists and vendors.

“We prioritize events like the bazaar because it matters to our service members and our local community not only from an economic perspective, but it continues to build partnerships and connections,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Suzanne Krauss, commanding officer CLDJ. “We gain an appreciation for the rich and warm culture here in Djibouti through events like this.”

Camp Lemonnier has hosted the bazaar biannually for the past 16 years as a way to give back and connect with the local community. In November 2022, the bazaar raised over $72,000 U.S. dollars in proceeds.

For Habone Mahamoud Farah, a first time vendor selling children’s clothing and other items said she found the bazaar to be a positive experience from her interactions with service members to the financial impact.

“So far this has been nice,” said Farah. “The bazaar gives visibility for small vendors, and it helps out financially, and this is a new experience.”
This year’s bazaar included a diverse group of vendors and artisans with tables of beautifully displayed basketry‎, textiles, jewelry, sculptures and paintings.

“This is a chance to come and interact with Djiboutians, and lets service members buy something for their wife, husband, or kids to capture their time in Djibouti,” said Capt. Mark Moreno, CLDJ’s chaplain.

The bazaar had 20 tables of 5 artisans and 15 vendors set up inside, and for Bouh Hachim Ibrahim, who has been a vendor at five different Camp Lemonnier bazaar over the years, says it still serves as a way to connect with U.S. military members.

“(The bazaar) is very good for us to get closer to each other, even though we are from different cultures, environments, countries, and origin,” said Ibrahim. “It is very important to get close for mutual understanding and cooperation.”

The bazaar connects U.S. military members with local Djiboutians through art, where art can break barriers and form bonds.

“We try to make sure we emphasize artisans, over vendors, so there are a lot of handmade items, I have seen pottery, beads, jewelry, and carvings,” said Moreno. “Part of what an American thinks of art or African art may be captured here, and often they find something they weren’t imaging, and have to buy it.”

This year’s bazaar included vendors and artisans from the different regions and ethnic groups from Djibouti. Camp Lemonnier receives support from the U.S. Embassy Djibouti, the Djibouti Chamber of Commerce, and the Djibouti Ministry of Commerce and Tourism to coordinate the event.

This bazaar is a part of a series of events where members of the community are invited to Camp Lemonnier, like the annual Islamic Cemetery Visit and annual Iftar event, that are designed to enrich the enduring relationship between U.S. service members and Djiboutians who are neighbors and a part of a community.

“Connecting as a community through an event like our bazaar makes us stronger neighbors and helps us all understand each other better,” said Krauss. “I can’t wait to continue to engage with our local community and partners here in Djibouti.”

CLDJ is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. The base enables maritime and combat operations in the Horn of Africa while fostering positive U.S.-Africa relations.

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