World Monuments Fund has been committed to protecting and conserving heritage in conflict zones and strengthening communities around sustainable commitments to heritage for decades. In recent years, the world has witnessed the devastating impacts of human conflict on the Syrian people and their treasured cultural sites.
After the success of the ‘Building Conservation Capacity in Syria and Jordan’, a training programme established in Mafraq, Jordan to train Syrian refugees and Jordanians to help renew community strength and rebuild heritage skills in anticipation of the conservation work that will be needed in post-war Syria and across the region, World Monuments Fund was awarded £665k from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund to establish the program in both Yemen and Lebanon.
Skills and Experience
The program located in Tripoli, Lebanon includes both Syrian refugees and members of the local Lebanese community. Participants will have opportunity to attain valuable skills, develop relationships with professional colleagues, and reinforce their commitment to cultural heritage. The program aims to train students in the basics of conservation stonemasonry and general conservation. Furthermore, to address gender imbalance in the craft, the programme will ensure at least 20% if those enrolled in the course are female.
Recruitment of students commenced at the end of August and a total of 41 trainees have been selected, 22% of those are female. The students have varied backgrounds and education levels; there are architects and engineers, an archaeologist, artisans and labourers. The training centre is in Lion Tower (Burj al-Sabah), a historic monument dating from the Mamluk period which was restored prior to the project.
Towards the Future
The stonemasonry initiatives are about more than learning technical skills, they also aim to engage next generation in their local heritage, ensuring there is a shared understanding of its importance and inspiring future generations to advocate for its protection.
The project will also help to reinforce World Monument Fund’s understanding of cultural heritage as a source of pride and identity for those displaced by war, and also as a very powerful tool for healing after conflict.