Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB), an independent Swedish non-governmental organization dedicated to rescuing and preserving cultural heritage, celebrates its 20th anniversary. CHwB was constituted in April 1995 in response to the systematic destruction of cultural monuments and objects that took place during the war in former Yugoslavia and the urgent need for development assistance and protection. Today CHwB still works in the western Balkans, as well as other regions.
While embarking on its third decade of activity, CHwB can report on more than 200 monuments restored and revitalized throughout the region of the western Balkans; built partnerships with national governments and the civil society sector; a regional network of more than 40 museums from the region working on improved access and inclusive management; more than 500 young professionals trained in cultural heritage conservation and its responsible management.
“Protection and preservation of cultural heritage is of enormous importance for the development of any society. Since its founding, CHwB has worked with cultural heritage as an active force in reconciliation, peace building, social and economic development in countries around the world,” says Ing-Marie Munktell, the chairperson of CHwB.
Present in Albania since 2009, CHwB has worked in important projects such as:
- Restauration and revitalisation of Babameto Houses, Category I and II monuments;
- Emergency conservation intervention at Saint Nicholas Church in Voskopoja;
- Emergency conservation intervention at the Haderi and Gurghai Houses, in Gjirokastra;
- Ongoing restauration of Kruja’s Hamam;
- ‘Sharing Stories, Shaping the Future: Dialogues for Spaç’, a series of visioning workshops that aim to create an open space for Albanians to explore and face their country’s communist past and heritage;
- E Ka Kush e Ka, a series of booklets and activities that aim to include children in rediscovering cultural heritage;
- Heritage Ateliers, activities aimed at children that combine site excursions with hands-on classroom sessions. In 2014 alone, CHwB held 6 Heritage Ateliers in several Albanian cities for more than 170 children and 30 parents.
- Regional Restoration Camps, a two-week program that is organized in the western Balkan, where participants follow a rigorous but fulfilling schedule, combining theory with hands-on experience and interpretation and management of cultural heritage sites.
“For us as an organization, there is a clear link between restoring a building and building human relations, trust, economy and the society. A building, more than walls and a roof, is a connection with the past and part of a nation’s history and identity,” says Lejla Hadžič, head of office for CHwB Albania
Cultural Heritage without Borders is also present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it’s working on a variety of restoration projects and museum-related activities, and Kosovo, where the focus is to utilise cultural heritage in promoting the public participation as a precondition for local development and reconciliation.
Internationally recognized, CHwB is proud to have been awarded twice with the prestigious EU prize for cultural heritage / Europa Nostra Award. In 2006 we were the laureates in the category for dedicated service for all the works conducted in the western Balkans, and in 2014 for education, training and public awareness for the model of the Regional Restoration Camps. Other awards include the Zero award for improved access to culture and an award from the Serbian association of conservators for improving conditions for international cooperation and protection of cultural heritage in the region.
CHwB will continue to improve the conditions and the opportunities to enjoy cultural freedom and cultural diversity and continue using cultural heritage as a tool to promote human rights, peace building and democratic development.