Three offices of Cultural Heritage without Borders in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosova, organized the “International Training on Disaster Risk Management for Cultural Heritage”. The training hosted 28 professionals from museums, heritage and disaster risk management coming from the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The three-week training programme started in Sarajevo, at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first week focused on the preservation of museum artefacts in situations of flood, fire or human neglect. For Aida Salketić, program manager at the CHwB Bosnia and Herzegovina office, the training in Sarajevo was very successful. “First of all, we introduced the participants to the training and disaster risk management cycle and practices. We focused on museum collections and museum practices through lectures and also simulations of first aid and evacuation of museum objects after disaster,” she said. Ms. Salketić, who is also an art historian, praised the strong teamwork all throughout the training.
During the second week in Prishtina, participants applied the disaster risk management cycle in an urban context, trying to answer questions such as how does disaster risk management fit into the integrated planning of historic cities. Nol Binakaj, deputy-head of CHwB Kosova office, says that the training met their expectations. “For a week we tried to identify the values of Prishtina city center. While assessing the objects, we also included the new monuments such as ‘Newborn’ or the Palace of Youth. Through this we wanted to show that not only the old monuments have values,” he emphasized. For Mr. Binakaj, who is also an architect, “the diversity of the participants, as for their countries and educational backgrounds, gave to all the opportunity to exchange views and ideas. Moreover, the training helped the cultural connection of the participants. This kind of relation that is created during these activities, helps smooth the divisions, regionally and not only.”
The third and final week of the training was held in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Gjirokastra, Albania. Elena Mamani, vice-director of CHwB Albania, highlighted the fact that the program combined both theoretical lectures from regional and international experts with practical field exercises designed to reflect real-world situations and test participants’ knowledge. “The goal of the training is for heritage professionals or participants with other profiles to learn practical skills for cultural heritage protection and preparedness. “Participants studied different methods and strategies to preserve intangible heritage. Some of the most important topics that were discussed were: assessing the risks for intangible cultural heritage, the importance of documentation for this heritage, etc.,” said Ms. Mamani.
An important part of the training, which also gained the attention of the local community, was the discussion panel on cultural heritage and humanitarian response. Panel members included: Birgitta Jansson, Head of Development Cooperation, Swedish Embassy in Tirana; Xhuvanaq Gjylameti, Director of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Ministry of Interior Affairs; Sonila Kora, Directorate of Tangible Heritage and Museums, Ministry of Culture; and Catherine Antomarchi, Director of the Collections Unit at ICCROM in Rome. They discussed, among other things, about providing more training opportunities for creating volunteer networks and integrating local views and values in humanitarian response.
A ‘Culture Night’ organized during the last week was a fun way for participants to share their cultures with each other. Participants came together as ensembles to show off their beautiful cultures, reflected in their songs, dance, food, drinks and poetry. Moving performances of singing and dancing truly manifested the unifying spirit of our cultural diversity.
This three-week training was organised within the regional project Balkan Cultural Aid Response for Emergencies (B+CARE). B+CARE is a platform founded in March 2016, in order to inspire, train and coordinate volunteers for the work of preparing and assisting in the event of a cultural emergency. B+CARE is funded by the Prince Clause Fund for Culture and Development from the Netherlands and the Government of Sweden.