The Hope that Rises with the Regional Restoration Camps


Mounting the scaffolding in the entrance of the sokak of Gorica awakened the curiosity of the inhabitants of the old museum-city of Berat. Here, 30 students and young professionals of architecture and cultural heritage gathered to intervene in three historical houses. The same curiosity could be seen in the gazes of locals and tourists, while they visited Saint Trinity Church, another working site during the 30th Regional Restoration Camp.   

For two weeks, September 18-30, lecturers from Sweden, England, Italy, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, came to share their knowledge. They held lectures on topics such as “conservation of cultural heritage,” “wood and stone in historical structures,” “restoration of frescoes,” “economic benefits of preserving heritage” and “theories of heritage interpretation.” The participants, assisted by the fully experienced masters of Berat, were able to put into practice the knowledge they gained. They had the same devotion ever since the first day while working on arched gates, fallen plaster and damages frescoes.

castleThe 31st Regional Restoration Camp, held in Gjirokastra, the home of the Camps, followed the same topics. The city of gray roofs, protected by UNESCO, warmly welcomed 25 participants from 6 countries of the region. They worked in three houses, which are all first category monuments of culture: Angoni house in the Dunavat neighborhood and the Jaho-Babaramo and Toro houses in Palorto. 

sttrinityThe partnership with the Regional Directorates of National Culture (DRKK) in both cities was perfect. For Eugen Kallfani, the head of DRKK Berat, the collaboration was quite fruitful. 

“CHwB has been very active in heritage issues: preservation, conservation, education through seminars and workshops,” said Kallfani. “I must sincerely congratulate CHwB and its Executive Director for organizing this camp. These two weeks were a very good opportunity for the young generation. It was a good possibility to expand their knowledge, exchange experiences, and focus on the application of theoretical and practical examples”.

For the Head of DRKK Gjirokastër, Albert Kasi, “the restorations of three houses were realized after a great and effective collaboration with CHwB Albania and its restoration camps.”

“We are grateful to the organization, to the masters and to the students from the Balkans, who worked in these projects,” said Kasi. 

masterxhoxhiFor the students and the masters, the camps exceeded expectations. Ambra Myftari, a student participating in the Berat camp, highly praised Xhoxhi Fani, the stone master that she worked with.

“He was our hero,” said Myftari. “He didn’t let the arch fall out the wall, the arch we were working on for 14 days. He welcomed us into his house and treated us like we were his daughters for 14 days. He accepted our jokes and would make some himself. He never bragged about his work in all parts of Albania. He taught us with care and passion about the art of working with stone. He is a great man.” 

You could hear the same from the students about all of the other masters: Agron Hyska, Arif Huso, Fadil Krasniqi in Gjirokastra and Vladimir Poçi, Rasim Shuko and Lili Garuli in Berat. As for the the masters, they were amazed by the dedication of the students.

toro“The students are working to sacrifice,” said Master Rufo (whose name surprisingly rhymes with roof), who worked with his crew at Angoni House in Gjirokastra.

“They have a lot of curiosity. I’ve taught them to have desire, to be ambitious and not to say no to work,” said Rasim, master of the façade in one of the houses of Gorica, in Berat. 

facadeThe community also welcomed the young professionals from the Balkans. Elida Zhulali, an artisan from Gjirokastra said that “the camps and CHwB Albania” are already a brand. 

“You see the Artisan’s Road at the center of the Bazaar?” asked Zhulali. “The artisanship center where I work was restored by CHwB Albania. The good thing is that together with restoration, it was also revitalized.”   

img_9001Raimonda (Monda) Kallapudhi, the owner of Jaho – Babaramo house says that her house is old and needs to be well maintained, but it is lovable. While she speaks, Monda expresses her love.

“In every single intervention, I have tried to preserve the old, not to ruin it,” said Kallapudhi. “I have rolled up my sleeves and worked together with the craftsmen who restored the house. Everyone tells me to sell the old horse-leather chest of my grand-grandmother and the original fire-pan to the City Museum. I always tell them that my house is a museum of its own. I want to open one or two rooms as a guest house. I will invest the entire income to bring back the glory of this house; the time when it was the house with the most beautiful garden in the city, when it had Turkish roses, and when all the women of the neighborhood were coming to our washstand to draw water. My house is priceless. We will leave it to our children, in the same way that our ancestors left it to us.”

The historian Ajet Nallbani praises the organization of the Camp in Berat. “They brought experts from several countries of the world,” said Nallbani. “They tried also to pass the craft skills to the new generation. It has been a positive initiative that gives us hope for the future.”

Hope, that CHwB Albania aims to fulfill with the restoration camps and many other activities in 2017.

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