A New Beginning for Ancient Borobudur
UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova planted a bodhi tree, lay a stone and rewarded community workers in a ceremony on 19 November to mark the end of a nearly two-year cleaning operation at the World Heritage site of Borobudur in Indonesia.
The 9th century Temple Compounds, one of the largest Buddhist monuments in the world, was covered in a thick coat of volcanic ash following the eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010, in which over 350 people lost their lives and over 100,000 were forced to flee their homes.
“The 2010 eruptions tell a story of destruction -- but, together, we are writing a new tale, one of resilience and unity,” said the Director-General, who celebrated the clean-up operation under tropical rainfalls alongside Mr Mohammad Nuh, Indonesia’s Minister for Education and Culture.
The Director-General and the Minister gave certificates to two elementary school students representing some 550 local community members who cleaned the temple and its intricate bas-reliefs, under the supervision of the <a name="_GoBack"></a>Indonesian Culture and Tourism ministry. They also presented special certificates to two donor representatives and to the Friends of Borobodur.
Within the three-tiered Temple, the Director-General symbolically signed a large stone from the Compound and set it back in place to mark the completion of the clean-up operation.
Minister Nuh stressed the importance of preserving one’s culture, highlighting its role in increasing the welfare and prosperity of people. The clean-up operations have been complemented by workshops organized by UNESCO to improve the livelihoods of local communities through acquiring a range of skills.
“This is UNESCO’s role -– to make the most of cultural heritage as a catalyst for social renewal and economic recovery,” said the Director-General, noting that the 40th anniversary celebrations of the World Heritage Convention in 2012 would focus on the role of local communities in World Heritage and sustainable development.