Founded in Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1995 and then expanded to Kosovo in 2001, Cultural Heritage without Borders made its first contacts with Albanian partners in December 2006, at the second Southeast European (SEE) Heritage meeting, Gjirokastra, which was organized in cooperation with the Mjaft! Movement. This activity was followed by the 1st Regional Restoration Camp, which was held in September 2007 in cooperation with the Albanian NGO Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization (GCDO) and the Swedish Association for Building Preservation. Following a rather successful 1st Regional Restoration Camp, the Albanian authorities responsible for the protection and care of monuments asked CHwB to expand its sphere of influence and enlarge its activity base. This request was followed by an application for funding from The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), which was then approved for the period 2008-2011 – our cooperation agreement that envisaged for the first time a country-specific focus on Albania.
After setting forth cooperation agreements with both national and local authorities, CHwB opened its first office in Albania in late 2009. While the majority of activities continued to take place in Gjirokastra, the head office for Albania was placed in Tirana, in order to facilitate meetings with government stakeholders and donors. Nevertheless, CHwB staff in Gjirokastra began to operate from day one, thanks to the office space generously provided by our local partners GCDO. Through the office in Gjirokastra, CHwB Albania was able to accomplish some of our most important works, such as trainings and restoration projects involving the two Babameto monuments (Babameto I & Babameto II), which today have been successfully restored and revitalized. As CHwB expanded, the office in Gjirokastra moved to its own premises several years later.
In recent years, CHwB Albania has expanded its work outside of Gjirokastra, with an emergency conservation intervention at the Church of St. Nicholas in Voskopoja in 2013 and the full restoration of the hamam in Kruja, finalized in 2015, and ongoing work with the former political prison and forced labor camp at Spaç. In June 2015, CHwB Albania was officially registered as an independent local NGO. This is the successful culmination of a multi-year process that recognized the professional growth of each of the local CHwB offices in the Western Balkans by seeking to register them as independent organizations—still with the CHwB name and holding onto the same values. CHwB is currently operating under an agreement with SIDA extended until the end of 2020.