As Ambassador Michael Reynor noted
Ladies and gentlemen,
In February, for the first time I visited Lalibela and I had the honor to start the second project for the cultural preservation of the US Embassy in Lalibela, the preservation of Bethe Golgota Mikael.
At that time I said that visiting the churches of Lalibela with the church was something I always dreamed of doing, and since then I have returned to Lalibela with my family to experience these beautiful churches more fully.
Today I am extremely happy and honored to return to Lalibela once again to celebrate the completion of this important conservation project.
Over the past six years, churches in Lalibela have been exposed to two projects sponsored by the US Ambassadorial Fund for the Protection of Culture.
In the first project, in Bethe Gabriel and Rafael, we were pioneers of innovative and non-intrusive techniques to help restore and preserve these churches – techniques that were then reused in Bethe Golgotha Mikael.
The purpose of these projects was to make a conservation work that lasted, but as far as possible discreetly and subtly – preserve the churches while minimizing the traces of that preservation and always respect the character of these sacred places.
Traditional mortar based on Ambo lime was used in the work of protecting Bethe Golgotha Mikael, and the innovative methodologies for preserving the stones are recorded in the technical guidelines so that they can replicate to other locations in Ethiopia and around the world.
Equally important, projects supported by the US Embassy in Lalibela included training of local craftsmen in these new methods of stone preservation, extending the capacity of Ethiopians to care and preserve their heritage.
I'm thrilled to have the craftsmen who worked on Bethe Golgotha Mikael here with us today.
I would like to ask them to pray to stand, so that we can recognize their outstanding work and dedication.
Thank you very much.
This group of craftsmen have always had the passion and commitment to care for these magnificent churches, and now they are better equipped with knowledge, skills and training to do this important work.
And they can bring these skills not only to maintain the churches preserved within the framework of projects of the US Embassy, but also to other churches in Lalibela.
It is a great concern to ensure that all cultural support projects supported by the US Embassy include the training of local craftsmen, because we want these projects to be not only an investment in the rich cultural heritage of Ethiopia, but also an investment in the capacity of Ethiopian protection and preservation to this legacy for future generations.
The project for protecting the cultural heritage of US ambassadors in Bethe Golgotha Mikael was an attempt to involve many partners:
- Ministry of Culture and Tourism
- Ethiopian Orthodox Church Tuvalho
- Lalibela Churches and a local church committee
- Authority for Research and Preservation of Cultural Heritage
- Amhara Bureau of Culture and Tourism
- City administration in Lalibela
- Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Construction and Development of the city
- University of Addis Ababa
- And the World Monuments Fund
I have the honor to work with you on such an important project.
Six years ago, we joined together on a mission to develop new conservation methods that can preserve the churches of Lalibela in a non-intrusive way, to ensure that these invaluable structures are not only preserved but can continue to function as beautiful, authentic, living churches – just as they have for centuries.
While celebrating the completion of our joint project in Beethoven Golgotha Mikael, we also celebrate the strong partnerships that have made it possible.
Thank you for the honor of letting the American government and people be part of important efforts to preserve this indispensable cultural heritage for the generations to come.
Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of the US Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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