Photos: Courtesy of the Workshop School

There are unappealable ideas, this is one of them, "to preserve the historical architectural monuments of a country is to prevent the most solid testimonies of its culture from disappearing."

Havana's eternal boyfriend, Eusebio Leal, once said that "beauty is as important to life as bread."

Eusebio knew what he was talking about, he devoted his life to giving beauty to his Havana.

Every January 27, the International Day of the Conservator-Restorer is celebrated, a date agreed upon since the XVIII International Congress on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Assets that took place in Granada in 2011, professions that are in charge of ensuring the rescue of history.

Among the Cuban institutions in charge of training the new generations dedicated to the art of restoration and conservation of cultural and architectural heritage is

the Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos Workshop School of Havana.

The Workshop School, founded on April 6, 1992 by the Office of the Historian with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, is in charge of training young people in trades such as comprehensive masonry, carpentry, plumbing, painting , general restoration, archeology, forge, among others.

Under the Martí principle of “learning by doing”, in these 31 years since it was founded, 20 courses have been completed, graduating nearly two thousand students.

It currently has a third generation of teachers who have kept Eusibio Leal's ideal of creating a teaching center for the rescue of tangible heritage alive.

The director of the Workshop School, Carlos Bauta Martín, told Cubadebate that “the school was created through an effort by Leal, with Spanish cooperation.

He always saw Old Havana not as an empty place or a museum, but as an inhabited place, and those same people should be the ones who supported the development of the community.”

“Within the social work of Old Havana, Leal also had a concern, which was to give a job to a group of boys who had no prospects of studying a university degree but needed a source of income.

So he decided to create a workshop school, where they also acquired a sense of belonging to the profession and to the social group in which they were working”.

Inés María Ofarri, Professor of Occupational Protection and Hygiene and member of the center's communication group, explained that all students culminate with comprehensive training, equalized both in theory and in practice of the same trades.

“I think that to a certain extent the school changes them for the better and inserts them into society,” he added.

He also affirmed that despite being workers in training, the institution maintains the link with the family.

"We have a very inclusive enrollment, in the last year more than 30% of the graduates were girls," said Carlos Bauta.

He also highlighted the cultural environment linked to the heritage that exists in the school and the important role it plays from a social point of view.

The restoration works with patrimonial value in which the students have worked reach the figures of more than 100 works in the Historic Center of Old Havana and other locations;

Among them are the Capitol, the Basilica of San Francisco, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Plaza de Armas, the Palace of the General Captains, the sea wall, among many others.

In a graduation ceremony, Leal invited them not to forget that they are young Cubans who have an identity, a family, a land, a homeland.

Graduated students from this study center go on to carry out their working lives at the OHCH, this makes it possible to guarantee the employment of dissimilar young people inside and outside Havana.

Photos: Courtesy of the Workshop School

Photos: Courtesy of the Workshop School