Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Butterfly Effect...

     All the artwork  on this post was done by my lovely friend Sherida Kuffour. Check out her site @ http://coconutandcream.tumblr.com/ 

The symbol we picked for Tekva Trust is a butterfly. Now I know that it may sound girly but stay with me...The reason for picking a butterfly is because we aim to cause a butterfly effect in the poorest nations in the world that are afflicted with the consequences of HIV/ Aids. The difference between what we aim to do and the chaos theory is that we aim to bring about a positive change in the lives of these people and make a genuine impact and difference in their lives, so much so that they will be empowered to take back control of their lives and ensure their own food security sustainably.

The butterfly effect is the idea, used in chaos theory, that a very small difference in the initial state of a physical system can make a significant difference to the state at some later time [from the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world might ultimately cause a hurricane in another part of the world] [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/butterfly+effect]

Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, physics, and philosophy studying the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. This sensitivity is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory#cite_note-0] 

 by SK - http://coconutandcream.tumblr.com/

Looking beyond yourself...and seeing...

If you ask my parents they will tell you that throughout most of my life i have been a big dreamer... I have always wanted to achieve the seemingly unachievable, attain the seemingly unattainable and I always had something up my sleeve so the element of surprise is more the foundation of all things Rudo! :-) 

Now you may have heard earlier in one of my posts that I have been unwell for some time...what I have not  explored is the emotional and spiritual battle that comes with prolonged illness. I made two positive steps; the first was to trust God for my healing and choose to believe that He would bring me through. The second was to be honest with myself about everything and not do anything unless I had made an informed choice to do it....this for me was ground breaking stuff!

 I did very nearly crack up if I am to be honest because there were at least two cliff hanger moments where the doctors thought I had first bowel cancer then lung...Praise God that it was neither and the diagnosis was (non life threatening) Sarcoidosis. Now in my quest to discover 'who I am' and 'what is my purpose in the world', I did a lot of soul searching and self examination. The result was that my priorities were all wrong (trying to climb the corporate ladder and being a workaholic and all that...crazy in hindsight...) and that one ought to work to live not the other way around! 

The question was still looming...what am I meant to be going? The answer came to me in a sermon I heard about being God dreamers and fulfilling your God given potential as you realise your God given dreams...it moved me to tears and I started soul searching further back than my career and realised that the thing I seemed to natural do is help people... so it got me thinking that helping people must be my purpose in life...but how?  I was talking to my friend Rumbi about it one evening and she shared how she wanted to go back to Zimbabwe one day and start a free medical clinic to help people too! We had just heard about the Serenje project that the Kerinth Centre, Bracknell Family Church had started and we put the two ideas together, said why wait? and just like that Tekva Trust was born :-) 

Tekva Trust was formed to with the sole purpose of giving hope in a 'practical way' to the hardest to reach people who are suffering in various ways from the HIV / Aids pandemic. We will achieve this  by helping them develop self-sustaining communities and ensuring their own food security, access to health services and education for their children.
 Tekva Trust is a Christian charity based in the United Kingdom that started in December 2009. The charity was set up for the specific purpose of reaching disadvantaged people whose lives have been adversely affected by HIV / Aids. 
HIV / Aids destroys life, diminishes communities, cripples societies and has changed the face of whole continents.The whole world has been touched and adversely changed in some way by this disease and the result is increased poverty, reduced life expectancy and higher mortality rates are experienced in the poorest countries of the world.  
Tekva Trust aims to help people living with or  adversely affected by HIV and Aids in three specific areas; Health & Social Care, Education and Agriculture with one simple focus, developing sustainable communities through aiding food security.

Share the love...

This is a lovely young woman called Rebecca whom I met in Southampton a year ago when  I was on an evangelistic impact team there with my church. She was on the high street talking to a friend whilst I was walking along praying for God to give me someone whom I could talk to and share my faith with and He brought her to my attention. I shared my faith with her and she responded to the gospel and gave her life to Jesus. We had a life altering meeting that Saturday afternoon and a bond of relationship was formed based on a love inspired by God.

I spoke to Rebecca a few weeks ago (a year on from when we first met) and she was was bubbling full of life and expectation by the end of the call. She has had a complete change in her life, she is back in school, doing a course that will lead her to university. Having seen her example, her mother and sister have both come to know the Lord as their personal Lord and Saviour also. She has a place of her own and is making positive choices that are based on her trust and faith in God, not a dependency on man which she said has saved her life, literally her whole life has been turned around. She was once in a place of desolation and despair in an abusive relationship, found herself to be a teenage mother with few prospects and little hope and now... everything has changed... :-)

Stories like this remind me why it is important to preach the gospel and to also have my own faith and trust in God because He truly is up in heaven cheering me on to live right and make it to heaven...what an awesome privilege to be the daughter of The King and to be part of that amazing experience of leading others to Him... So today I celebrate Love because God is Love and to share Christ is to share LOVE...

Monday, 26 April 2010

April 23rd

Uncle John is a lovely English Gentleman that has been a dear friend to my family long before I was born! He and his lovely wife took my mum under their wing when she first moved to England to study (when she was not too much younger than I am now; that is early 20's). They were there through most of her major life experiences and a few drama's and were like surrogate parents to her. When they didn't have to, they loved her and now I have the privilege of knowing Uncle John personally and experience that love (unfortunately his lovely wife passed away...).   So anyway Uncle John shares his birthday with a few other people / things and therefore this is a celebration of the date and all that is marked by it as well as the lovely man himself.

On this April 23rd uncle John turned 88! (Two fat ladies in Bingo language! Lol :-) Its not every day you can say you are two fat ladies...Lol!) Anyway At 10am on Friday (April 23rd) Uncle John called me to say he wanted to share his birthday with me (I was asleep at the time!) and boy did he get my attention! I quickly reprimanded him for not telling me sooner to which in true uncle John fashion he said he didn't want to make a fuss! So i made him a card (above) incorporating St. George and William Shakespeare because he mentioned them when he called, and sent it to him. I then jumped out of bed, sorted myself out and went down to Tesco (Sandhurst)to pick up a cake on the way to Uncle John's to surprise him. Whilst at Tesco I met this lovely lady called Sue at the customer services desk and she helped me find a flag and get my face painted! (which i was sure would amuse uncle John!) 

I then went over to Uncle John, cake in tow and he was completely surprised! 

So all in all it was a really great day and Uncle John was so happy ... a truly priceless moment that inspires passion and is what life is all about! :-)

So what else happened on April 23rd?
St. Georges Day
St George is the patron saint of England (Ireland, Wales and Scotland have their own too) and he is celebrated today (April 23rd) because he was thought to have died on this day in 303 AD 
England Day

St. George's Day is also used as a day for the English to celebrate themselves...a kind of non-official  English National Day. England is unusual in that it has no national day, no public holiday to celebrate the nation, therefore the English tend to use this day to fly their flag and celebrate who they are as a people.

William Shakespeare's Birthday

SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM (1564—1616), English poet, player and playwright, was baptized in the parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire on the 26th of April. Birth 1564. The exact date of his birth is not known. 18th-century antiquaries, William Oldys and Joseph Greene, gave it as April 23. April 23 was the day of Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

There you go, a great date all round! 
Happy Birthday Uncle John!!!!!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Title: Building Sustainable Communities through Adaptive Vernacular Architecture by Rudo Nyangulu

I have finally decided on my thesis topic and here it is:
Title: Building Sustainable Communities through Adaptive Vernacular Architecture: A pathway to providing access to adequate housing.
Sustainable communities develop as a result of each individual family units being able to thrive in all respects; and adequate housing is no exception.  A sustainable (community) society is one that can persist over generations,  that is far-sighted enough, flexible enough and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social systems of support (E.C.E, 1996) The problem is that in today’s society, there are approximately one billion people who live below the poverty line, the majority of whom do not live in adequate housing (Collier, 2007). The human right to adequate housing is enshrined in international law. The origins of one’s ‘right to adequate housing’ can be traced back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was unanimously adopted by the world community in 1948. (Thiele, 2002)  “Essential to the achievement of this standard and therefore to the fulfilment of human life beyond simple survival, is access to adequate housing. Adequate housing must meet the following: fulfil physical needs by providing security and shelter from weather and climate, .fulfil psychological needs by providing a sense of personal space and privacy, fulfil social needs by providing a gathering area and communal space for the human family which is the basic unit of society” (H.R.E.A, n.d.). The poor fare worse than the better-off  almost everywhere and with respect to nearly every indicator including adequate housing (Gwatkin et al, 2007).                                                                        
Whilst the right to adequate housing has been established in literature and at law, it is still elusive to many of the world’s poorest people and as a result, their villages and communities are fragmented at best. In order to address this disparity it is necessary to make adequate housing accessible to this group of people. This paper seeks to address the issue of access by considering methods for achieving adequate housing for the poor by employing and adapting vernacular architectural techniques as well as sustainable construction methods to achieve this aim. Kofi Anan (n.d.) put it aptly when he made the following statement; ‘Our biggest challenge is to take sustainable development, an idea that seems abstract, and turn it into a daily reality for the entire world’s people.’
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948) was the first point in which the world leaders made a united, public step towards addressing the very real issues of suffering and inhumane conditions in which a large proportion of the world’s population lived in and were subjected to. Poor housing is always associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, yet housing generally is not high on the list of societal needs and governmental priorities (Novick). As Novick so aptly puts it, adequate housing has been on the ‘back burner’ for most countries when it comes to international debate and indeed taking action since the various pieces of legislation came into effect. . As is the norm, the ideals of provision of adequate housing were adopted by the first world, for example more affluent nations such as the United Kingdom (U.K.). The U.K. has put in place legislation in its domestic law namely the Housing Act 2004, to ensure this right for all is achieved and surpassed. In contrast,  the majority of developing countries, particularly in the ‘bottom billion’ (Collier,  2007) have a level of poverty that is so high that the right to adequate housing has been overshadowed by the basic need for food, security and a conundrum of health problems linked to poverty.                                                                                                  
The irony here is that many health problems have been known to be linked to inadequate housing. The World Health Organisation prepared, ‘Health Principles of Housing’ which states that housing acts as the environmental factor most frequently associated with conditions for disease in epidemiological analyses”(C.E.S.C). Thiele, (2001) discusses this issue in his paper,’ The Human Right to Adequate Housing: A Tool for Promoting and Protecting Individual and Community Health’ which states that, ‘housing conditions affect both individual and community health to a great degree. ‘He clearly shows the unambiguous link between adequate housing and health, thereby highlighting how important the housing issue really is for human life to be sustained.            
The question of adequate housing particularly in the ‘bottom billion’ countries can be addressed by relying on the dynamics of vernacular architecture and sustainability. The  reason for this focus is that there have been various studies relating to the viability of adapting vernacular architecture thereby providing affordable means for every man to have adequate housing. In vernacular architecture, sustainability is manifested in the design of buildings, use of materials, environmental and social consciousness. There are indeed many lessons to be learned from vernacular architecture in this area (Mahgoub, 1997). The various case studies that have been carried out in this field show progressively the significant impact realised from the adaptation of vernacular architecture and the introduction of sustainability. We will consider two environments from the Middle East and Africa to determine how housing is delivered in these areas and the impact of sustainability on traditional methods. Naciri, (2007) considers aspects of sustainability in vernacular and modern architecture in the Middle East and North Africa in his study. Van Tassel, (n.d.) shows in his study in Tanzania (Africa) that, ‘all over Mwanza, traditional architectural methods and techniques are rationalised, improved or adapted, and have led into new forms of architecture present today’ Both studies  focus more on architectural significance as they have been written for this discipline, however we can glean from their work and certainly set the scene in relation to the application of vernacular architecture and sustainability which will allow us to see how viable the concept of adapting and in some areas reviving these practices, will go a long way to achieving adequate housing for all in practice. 

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Life can be summed up as time...

I think one’s feelings waste themselves on words, they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results - Florence Nightingale

I love Florence Nightingale’s way of thinking! Too much of life is wasted in that place between ‘feelings’ and actions called procrastination. Procrastination is a place where too many people live… they procrastinate about jobs, home moves, investments, symptoms of illness and more often than not, in relationships… 

Procrastination is the thief of time”. This statement is all the more powerful when we consider that life is essentially made up of time…every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year we spend, angry and refusing to forgive, hurting and refusing to ask for help, in love and refusing to admit it or commit, in denial and refusing to admit the truth of our situation…all that time is not just time procrastinated…but life lost…once the time passes, we can never have it back or re-live those moments… If we go through life not addressing the issues that need to be addressed, not forgiving where we have been wronged, not apologising when we were wrong, not stepping out and trying something new, not giving a chance to those things that are just outside your comfort zone or not opening your heart to love for fear of rejection, we may find that we come to the end of our lives and look back and realise that it was not just opportunities we lost along the way, but life itself!

Sometimes it is as if we are so paralysed with fear at the prospect of failure or rejection that we choose not to do anything, unwittingly choosing not to live… Consider the number of opportunities that you have passed up because you were afraid to take a chance and be wrong or get hurt? Consider the number of relationships you have lost along the way because you refused to forgive, to try and in some cases you would not even dare to introduce yourself… Sometimes we write people off without giving them a chance or allow bad relationships to prolong when we know that the best thing to do is walk away but we don’t because it is easier therefore more comfortable to maintain the status quo… 

When did we get afraid of living? Children are an excellent example of how to live! They are unafraid and will try anything. Children make friends easily because they are uninhibited and not worried about what others think about them. They are unrestrained in their inner dreamer and have the greatest ideas about what they want to do and who they want to be and they are not afraid to declare it or indeed have a go at becoming it (though usually through playing acting doctors and pilots etc). Children never seem to hold grudges and make up really quickly so they waste no playing time. We could really learn so much from children when it comes to living without fear or any other such inhibitions and enjoying life fully by acting on our ‘positive’ feelings, putting away fear and rejection and living every minute as if it were your last…

Procrastinate To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness; To postpone or delay needlessly. [http://www.answers.com/topic/procrastinate]  

Fear A state or condition marked by this feeling: (living in fear); A feeling of disquiet or apprehension (a fear of looking foolish); A reason for dread or apprehension (Being alone is my greatest fear) [ http://www.answers.com/topic/fear]        

Rejection The act of rejecting or the state of being rejected. Something rejected. [http://www.answers.com/topic/rejection]

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Silently Denying Christ by Rudo Nyangulu

As my mouth opens a flood of silence proceeds;
My thoughts drowned out by the deafening stillness,
My determination wilts under the rays of shame emanating from my face;
My pupils dilate as the magnitude of the scene I am making
Sweat drop from my brow with a crash as they become acquainted with the ground;
Jump starting my mind which begins to compete with my heart like a 100 meter dash…

My mind wins as flashes of those final hours come to me;
The cat of nine tails plundering his flesh as it meets His back;
Blow by blow met His chin like old friends yet he recoiled not;
Rip…rip…resounded as they tore his beard from his face;
Crash… clank…was the sound of wood meeting the ground as He fell,
His eyes blood obscured as the thorns dug deeper seeking His skull;
Knock…clank went nail by nail as the fixed him to the cross… 

Like reawakening from a trance I come to myself almost in shock;
Mouth still open, silence still deafening, yet shame washed over me like a cold shower;
There I stood too proud to identify myself with He who suffered and died for me…
How could I not bellow from the roof tops, “I live because He died?”
How could I bare to stand silent when they take His name in vein?
How could I not eagerly sing of His love aloud in the streets?
How could I not be desperate to proclaim His gospel to the world?
How could I deny Him with my silence yet call Him my Lord?

Copyright (c) Rudo Nyangulu 2010. All rights reserved

Little bundle of joy...

‘Love is consciously given to some yet effortlessly attained by others almost without one knowing…children are one such beings who achieve the latter’. This is a little tribute to an incredibly special little lady called Praise who inspired this note and all its sentiments.

Love is defined here as a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship. [http://www.answers.com/topic/love]

Praise is my friend’s daughter, she was born about five or six weeks prematurely and I recall seeing the first pictures of her, so tiny, so pale with so many tubes coming in and out of  her, it was a sight that would break even the hardest of hearts and move the very coldest… She had to fight from the very beginning so brave yet so small…a true beacon of hope for all who wish to prove the evil insanity of abortion! Thank God, she developed well in the time she was incubated in hospital and she is perfect! (That is no long lasting health problems).

Premature birth is birth less than 37 weeks after conception. Infants born as early as 23 – 24 weeks may survive but many face lifelong disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness). Premature infants account for 8 – 9% of live births but two-thirds of infant deaths. 40 – 50% of cases have no explanation; other cases can be attributed to such causes as maternal hypertension or diabetes, multiple pregnancy, or placental separation. With good care, about 85% of live-born premature infants should survive.

When Praise finally came out of hospital and I got to meet her and hold her for the first time, it was such a magical moment! She was so small and beautiful and amazingly uncomplaining for all she had been through and just like that in the first moment, she walked into my heart and ‘effortlessly attained’ my love.  There are few such moments like it when you involuntarily form a bond with another, not based on what you can gain or your responsibility to them, but simply because of whom they are… I think the purest form of this is with children because children are innocent, defenseless and unable to have ulterior motives so in turn, we let our guard down with them and it is easy to love them.

“Love is consciously given to some yet effortlessly attained by others almost without one knowing…children are one such beings who achieve the latter”– Rudo Nyangulu

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A case for the Vernacular...

  I am in the process of undertaking a magister Scientiae (Master of Science) degree in ‘Intelligent Buildings’. Intelligent Buildings can be defined as being; ‘An intelligent building is one which provides a productive and cost-effective environment through optimisation of its four basic elements; structure, systems, services and management, and the interrelationship between them. [Intelligent Buildings: Concept, Strategy & Management - paper written by Rudo Nyangulu]. I chose this program because the course sounded interesting; I have always loved architecture, (particularly old church buildings) and I was working in the industry at the start of the course and wanted more formal knowledge. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I love my course and have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge base to include the sciences when I have historically been one for the arts.

 As part of this study I have to carry out a research project of my choosing, the question is, what do I feel passionate about???? After much deliberation (not to mention flirtation with two other topics); having found a cause I am passionate about I have decided on the following;

The concept of ‘Sustainable Communities’ in relation to developing an international principle or (minimum) standard / criteria for a home dwelling

I have not as yet settled on a title but I have embarked on the journey of researching my subject area to ascertain its feasibility and if in fact such a standard already exists and if so how well it is delivered…there is certainly much to consider…What I do already know is that any such principle / standard would only be successfully achieved if vernacular architecture plays a central role.

Vernacular architecture refers to common domestic architecture of a region, usually far simpler than what the technology of the time is capable of maintaining. In highly industrialized countries such as the U.S., for example, barns are still being built according to a design employed in Europe in the 1st millennium BC. Vernacular structures are characterized by inexpensive materials and straightforwardly utilitarian design.

Vernacular architecture is a term used to categorise methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and historical context in which it exists. It has often been dismissed as crude and unrefined, but also has proponents who highlight its importance current design.  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernacular_architecture]

I am convinced that by adapting vernacular architecture successfully, through the participation and approval of local people, who will be able to manage, repair and occupy these dwellings, we can eradicate poor housing standards and their associated health risks around the world…watch this space…

Saturday, 17 April 2010

An afternoon in prison…

Last Tuesday I went to a prison to visit a lady I am acquainted with who has been remanded into custody pending a successful bail application or trial.

Prison - This is a place used for confinement for those who are remanded into custody awaiting a bail hearing or trial and convicted criminals.  

Custody - The detention of a person by lawful authority or process. [http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/custody]

Remand - A prisoner who is remanded into custody is sent back to prison subsequent to a preliminary hearing before a tribunal or magistrate until the hearing is resumed, or the trial is commenced. [http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Prisoner+on+remand]

In a previous life I worked as a Crown Court Clerk whilst deliberating if I should peruse a career in Law or not. In this role I worked as an assistant to the lead solicitor for criminal cases. My role involved taking depositions from witnesses, visiting crime scenes, the coroner’s office, assisting barristers during trials, reading endless case files, attending the police station to represent people arrested on suspicion of a crime and visiting clients in detention centre’s and prisons. It was an incredibly colorful job, never a dull moment, constantly dance on the tight rope that is the line between truth and fabrication (lie!). After defending a rape case, a pedophile and a murderer I decided that criminal law was not for me! So when I was working late one night and a bunch of opportunistic criminals decided to break into our offices to steal out computers (outrageous isn’t it! Imagine that, criminals stealing form a defense solicitor’s office!) Well this incident which as you can tell (because I’m still here five years on to tell the tale) I survived, propelled my departure from that practice.

There was nothing about that experience that I look back at fondly and as you can imagine I had no intention of becoming that up close and personal with the criminal justice system again and successfully achieved this for five years until now…I stood in the waiting room armed with my double forms of identification (photo and proof of address). I showed this information to the guard in the ‘meet and greet’ reception building, was then booked in after showing them my evidence of who I am and where I live then I was ushered to the next building which was the front end of the visiting area. Now you must understand that on a legal visit, it took a maximum of 10 minutes to check in as in Bristol (where I worked) our firm was well known and inmates need as much time as possible with their defense lawyers. So when I arrived at the second building (10 minutes was already taken up in building 1) I was unpleasantly surprised to find a second check in desk, with a queue of people waiting to go through the whole process again! Well another 7minutes and I got to the front of the queue, showed them my photo identification and proof of address and then they said I had to give them my biometrics!

Biometrics – The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns, for use in verifying the identity of individuals (which are collected by government bodies and added to a database). [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/biometrics]

Now I’m sure everyone has heard about the scandalous ‘British ID card’ that parliament tried to bring into effect as law but received great opposition. The government states that; “the identity card offers a convenient way to prove your identity in everyday situations.” This is the official statement, however it seems that the collection of biometrics and issuing of ID cards has a similar and more sinister agenda…control! Why else would a normal law abiding citizen with a passport and driving license for photographic identification) need to have (at a cost to myself no less,) a third form of identification?[http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Identitycards/DG_174258]

 Furthermore As I am not a criminal, suspected or proven, why hould the government need my fingerprints and all other biometric information? The official statement in relation to prison’s collecting visitors biometric information is, “the introduction of biometrics in prisons is aimed at cutting down on contraband - prohibited items such as mobile phones and alcohol - and drug trafficking, the Home Office said.”  [http://www.silicon.com/management/public-sector/2006/03/29/more-prisons-to-take-visitors-biometrics-39157659/] Seriously!?! I have already told you two parts of the five part process one has to go through before you can even get to the station which does the final check before you can get in to see the prisoners!
Prisoner’s Visitors check in process:
1.    Show 2 forms of ID (including photo ID) at initial Reception building and receive a red form pre-printed with the name you provided when you booked your appointment.
2.    Go to second building in prison grounds where you go through the same identification process you did at building one
3.    Provide your biometrics (photo and scan of both your index fingers)
4.    You are body searched (thoroughly)
5.    You have go through two vacuum corridors until you get to the other end then provide your finger print again in order to access the visitors area.
A minimum of 30minutes is required to complete this process before your visit.
Please can anyone explain to me how anyone would be able to (or stupid enough to try) smuggle contraband of traffic drugs into a prison during a formal visit? So what was the point or purpose of the biometrics when you bring photo ID and two proofs of address????? Not to mention the body search! I was needless to say not very happy with the very principle of this and has the lady not been expecting me to visit I would have declined to enter at this intrusion of collecting my biometrics.
It is unreal the lengths the government will go to, to obtain biometric information form innocent law abiding citizens particularly when the collection of biometrics was traditionally reserved for cataloguing criminals and suspected felons! 


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