In Essaouira on Tuesday 1 October, 2013 the High Atlas Foundation held a closing conference to present the results of its one-year long cemetery preservation and education program in this small port town on the Atlantic Coast in the presence of US Consul-General, Mr. Brian Shukan.
Mr. Shukan welcomed the achievements of the project, which has trained caretakers in good practices, overseen cleaning and planting activities with local community members, organized awareness-raising events with local people, integrated over 400 individual students and schoolchildren into educational and practical activities around cultural knowledge preserved by the cemeteries, and worked with over 120 members of local civil society. He said: "By making the cemeteries most welcoming, encouraging more visitors to discover these cemeteries for the first time and helping the current generation to remember its rich roots of their peaceful coexistence, this project will help preserve the illustrious past of Essaouira for future generations." Mr. Shukan this added that "in a world that sometimes seems more divided, the cemeteries of Essaouira capture the spirit of interfaith and intercultural tolerance."
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation was launched by the U.S. Congress in 2001. To date, it has funded more than 500 restoration projects across the world. HAF is privileged to be part of this effort and we would like to take the opportunity to thank all our partners and collaborators in these efforts.
Initiated by HAF and its partners and funded by the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and Essaouira-Mogador Association, this project aimed to rehabilitate the cemeteries and make them more welcoming for families and visitors, encourage respect of passersby and educate the next generation in the spirit of this rich past.
HAF was honored that the US Consul General, Mr Brian Shukan, visited Essaouira to deliver the keynote speech at the conference. Mr Shukan once again visited the Muslim cemetery, which he had earlier visited along with the Christian and Jewish cemeteries in Essaouira with HAF and Mr. André Azoulay, Adviser to HM King Mohammed VI. Together they strongly support this project.
Mr. Azoulay recently noted that, in Morocco, people believe that diversity is an asset and that there are no double standards in this regard."It's the expression of a national consensus which I regard as exemplary", he said.
Describing the project as "a testament to the cooperation between the United States and Morocco," Mr. Shukan focused on "empowering the local community through a participatory approach" which has been a key aspect this initiative.
He also stressed the importance of cultural heritage as a "reminder of the contributions and historical experiences of humanity," adding that "the historical monuments and archaeological sites and objects enrich and inform today's societies and help us to establish relationships with our cultural backgrounds."
We hope that this project – which was HAF’s first in Essaouira and our first in the field of cultural preservation – and the partnerships it has allowed us to create, will open the door to many more activities in the field of human and cultural development in Essaouira Province.
We would like to thank our many partners in this project, in particular: the Associations Essaouira-Mogador, Français du monde-ADFE d’Essaouira, Argania and Bayti as well as all those represented in our many community meetings and the many institutions which have hosted us. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Andre Azoulay, Mr. Asher Knafo and Mr. Mohammed Oqba and the caretakers of the three cemeteries. We are grateful for the strong support of many public bodies, in particular the Governor and Province of Essaouira, the Municipal Council of Essaouira and the provincial Delegations of Culture, Tourism, Education, EntreAide Nationale and Islamic Affairs and Habous.Share
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