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U.S. Ambassador Sison Visits Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Site at Batticaloa Fort

October 25, 2012
Ambassador Sison toured the Dutch Fort in Batticaloa, a 2011 recipient of the Ambassador's Cultural Fund for Preservation.

Ambassador Sison toured the Dutch Fort in Batticaloa, a 2011 recipient of the Ambassador's Cultural Fund for Preservation.

U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison paid a visit on October 23, 2012, to view the historic Dutch Fort and see the completion of the $52,000 grant made under the 2011 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).  The 26 year Sri Lankan conflict and effects of the 2004 tsunami had long prevented much needed conservation work to the area, but thanks to the AFCP grant, local partners have begun to rescue this national treasure, while simultaneously assisting to promote greater economic development through cultural preservation.   

The project examined the conservation and re-use of the ancient Dutch Fort in Batticaloa as a key element in the development of the conflict ridden Eastern Province in Sri Lanka.  By creating new livelihoods in the tourism industry, the project aims to make Batticaloa Fort a model of landmark development for the country.  It will revitalize the area while providing both visitors and the local community an example of the cultural diversity of the region.  Funding through the AFCP enabled Environmental Planning Services (Pvt) Ltd and the Institute of Town Planners to carry out necessary surveys and landmark documentation in order to develop and preserve the site for future generations.   

Conservator Pali Wijeratne showed the Ambassador the fort as it stands today.

Since its creation over a decade ago by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided financial support to more than 640 cultural preservation projects in more than 100 countries. This accomplishment represents a contribution of nearly $26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. More importantly, it shows the depth of the United States’ respect for the cultural heritage of other countries.  The Batticaloa Fort project was one of two AFCP awarded in 2011 in Sri Lanka; the other funded a similar preservation project with the historic Galle Fort.  The U.S. Embassy is accepting nominations for 2013 AFCP assistance and encourages organizations to contact the American Center for details: amcentersl@state.gov