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life Inside issue 6

The power of collective action LIFE FOR CHILDREN AND THOSE WHO CARE FOR THEM Maya’s out of danger now in Nepal Viva’s added value in Costa Rica Proactive child protection in Hong Kong

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page 4

page 10 page 14


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ZIMBABWE “It’s been a long time since I’ve had fun like this.”

“I am going to be an agent of change in my community”


treated “People were very kind. We are not r.” poo are we use this way normally beca


“I learned how I can overcome the difficulties I have in life.”

PARTY-TIME! Remember last Christmas? It won’t be forgotten by the children who attended a Viva Christmas Party! More than 4,000 vulnerable children worldwide enjoyed a meal, took part in activities and received a gift. Good follow-up after the parties has ensured children with no previous contact with network members are connected with local programmes and ongoing support.

Viva Christmas Parties are important for a network’s health too, increasing visibility, building capacity, encouraging new members to join and showing the value of working together. Why not host your own party to raise money? You can do it at any time of the year! Contact Rachael at if you would like to know more.

We are an international Christian charity passionate about releasing children from poverty and abuse. We grow locally-led networks who are committed to working together so that children are safe, well and able to fulfil their God-given potential.


Last year, we reached 1.4 million children in 22 countries through our 37 partner networks, which comprise a total of 5,500 churches and community organisations. Find out more at

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EDITORIAL You have probably heard the story of thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. One by one, a child starts throwing them back into the ocean. When asked why they are bothering since there are so many, the child replies, “I can make a difference to that one.” At its simplest, this story is great. However, it has many issues when used as an analogy for aid work. What if the child asked for help? Within no time at all, there could have been an army of volunteers working together. Imagine how many starfish they could have saved! In the story, the child is cast as the hero and the starfish as a helpless victim, incapable of rescuing itself. This is fine for starfish but not for people. Viva believes that a locally-led network of churches and NGOs can more effectively and efficiently change the lives of children than any single organisation working on their own. Through empowering, training and resourcing our 37 partner networks around the world, we help ensure that they are in the best possible position to care for children in their communities.

Hear from Brian Wilkinson, Viva’s Head of Network Development, on the theory behind our partner networks (page 12). And learn how Viva has put this theory into action in Costa Rica (page 10). Turn to page 14 to read about the pressure that many children are under here in Hong Kong and how our expanding child protection work is aiming to ensure that more children in the city feel safe, secure and loved. Thank you as ever for your support of our work – and do get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more. Contact details are on the back page.

In this edition of Life, read about the power of collective action and how, because of this, Ruth can return home (page 6) and Maya is no longer at risk of exploitation (page 4).

Mark Stavers Chief Executive

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Justine Demmer Asia Network Consultant

Rachael Ma Office and Fundraising Manager


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© Adam Jones



Maya is back at school and safe from harm

Justine Demmer describes how grassroots networks are best placed to tackle society’s biggest issues and shares a story from Nepal of one girl saved from the risk of exploitation. Eleven years old: the age when girls in many cultures begin to become more independent and transition from primary to secondary school. The younger years of childhood are ending; becoming a teenager is rapidly approaching. In parts of Nepal, however, 11 is a dangerous age to be a girl. For this is when many girls are sexually exploited for the first time by groups of men who are more concerned about exerting power and making money than the care and protection of children. Maya is 11 and lives with her aging parents

and one younger sister in Kuwapani village in Bageshwori, central Nepal. It’s an area regularly targeted by traffickers because of its remoteness and for the children, whose skin is naturally paler than those living in other parts of the country. A fairer complexion is viewed by them as more attractive. With no land of their own, Maya’s family farm other people’s fields to grow crops and try to earn money. When she was five, Maya started to go to a local school, but her parents couldn’t afford all the things she needed like stationery


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THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE ACTION and uniforms, so she was forced to leave after just one year there and instead spent her days looking after the family’s goat. Looking back, Maya says, “I felt very bad when I saw the other children going to school; I never really got a chance.” For some years, churches in Bageshwori Village Development Committee, where Maya and her family live, have participated in the trafficking advocacy campaign run by Viva’s partner network, CarNet Nepal. These churches have identified that a number of children in their area go missing regularly – and it’s likely they are trafficked. Together, the churches took action and formed a Child Protection Vigilant Group to actively intervene and protect children. Village-level groups like this have formed to monitor issues in their own community. They collect the data about vulnerable children and, where possible support them in areas of neglect, such as providing adequate clothing so that they can attend school. They also train children in good hygiene. The training has been developed in partnership with the government of Nepal. Last year, the church volunteers in Bageshwori led a door-to-door programme campaigning against child sexual abuse and child trafficking, and sharing the risks and discussing child protection. One of the doors they knocked on belonged to Maya’s family. The volunteers went in, talked to her parents about the importance of education and safety – and learned that trafficking recruiters had already started to visit the family, taking an interest in Maya who was still unable to attend school because it was too costly. The volunteers recommended that Maya attend the local Child Development Centre (CDC), established by CarNet Nepal to help out-ofschool and vulnerable children reintegrate into the government schooling system and then stay enrolled. After six months at a CDC, which provided Maya with catchup learning, uniform and materials, her parents enrolled her into the local school. The network also provided Maya’s parents with income generation support to ensure she started at the local school.

CarNet Nepal’s scale and impact means they have been able to create good working relationships with government departments that individual churches and NGOs in Nepal were too small to achieve on their own. Through this partnership, the network has also arranged citizenship and birth certificates for many of the children in the network, which are essential for school registration. Maya received her certificates with the network’s assistance – and so did her parents, when it was discovered they had never been through the process, a common occurrence in Nepal. Her mother said she can hardly believe that in her old age she has finally got citizenship! Maya’s parents are very thankful that their precious 11-year-old daughter has been saved from the risk of being trafficked. They will continue to send their daughter to school regularly and are hopeful about her future. It’s fantastic to see how, through its holistic, collaborative programmes focused on child protection, education, birth registration and income generation, CarNet Nepal is bringing new hope to the lives of thousands of children and their families in the poorest regions of the country. Justine Demmer is Viva’s Network Consultant for Asia

In 2016, CarNet Nepal:

•Created and trained 16 Child Protection Vigilant Groups

•Reached 2,400 parents and children through door-to-door visits

•Supported the education of 120 children through Child Development Centres

Help our partner networks to protect and empower girls like Maya by giving a regular monthly gift to ensure our work continues for years to come. Please use the form on page 13 or go to

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CARE Ruth was helped by several different organisations in CRANE’s city-wide network

Our dream is for abandoned children to grow up in safe and loving families. The reality of life however means situations are deep-rooted and complex. Liz Cross explains why we believe a network approach is the best way to find solutions to society’s largest problems – in countries such as Uganda.


It was the end of term at ten-year-old Ruth’s boarding school but no-one came to pick her up.

helped resettle from orphanages back into family care, whether this is with biological or foster parents.

Her parents hadn’t paid her fees and they had heard of schools who would not allow children to return home until debts had been cleared. They assumed this was one of those schools; there was no-way they could pay so they just left her there. The school arranged transport to take Ruth home but when she got there she found that her parents had moved away and none of the neighbours knew where they’d gone. She had no other option at that time than a life on the streets.

Viva and CRANE work with 35 Child Care Institutions, advocating that a family home is a better place for a child than an orphanage. This requires a shift in thinking for most as orphanages are often funded by the number of children in their care. These 35 network members are now united in a vision to help provide family-based care for children and to work together, sharing best practice with one another, as well as with other organisations.

Ruth is one of over 1,000 children who Viva and our partner network CRANE, in Uganda, has rescued from the streets or

Maureen Muwonge, Deputy Director of Dwelling Places, a network member, says, “Through a network we are able to learn from each

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THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE ACTION other. I visited two organisations last year that were orphanages and was able to support them in understanding that every child deserves to be raised in a family unit.” CRANE and Viva have also created training programmes to teach network member staff about the methodology of family reintegration, so that resettlement is successful for both family and child. Staff learn how to trace a family, provide counselling and to ensure the home situation is safe and suitable for long-term care. Alongside this, Viva and CRANE have also been working with government social workers, police and other authorities so that all the legal boxes are ticked. Network members are even teaching others what they have learnt. Maureen has now helped those two orphanages develop a resettlement programme for the first time. She says, “I showed them how it could happen. They didn’t believe it was possible but by the end of the year they were able to resettle almost half of the children.” Maureen is passionate about working together and the difference CRANE has made to her organisation: “There are so many benefits to being a part of a network as an individual organisation. You have a vision but many times you cannot achieve whatever you want to achieve unless you have people to support you.” This certainly is the case in Ruth’s story: over four organisations were involved in helping her. After spending months on the streets, the local police picked her up and contacted an advocacy organisation in the network to see if they could help. This organisation didn’t have the mandate, resources or training to provide assistance, but they were part of a network who did.

Ruth’s care costs, another network member came alongside and paid school fees. Eventually, Ruth’s mother was found and it became clear that it was the father’s plan to abandon Ruth because of their money problems. Since then, the parents had separated and Ruth’s mother had remarried. Whilst she was happy to have her daughter back, her new husband wasn’t so willing to provide for another child. CRANE came alongside and provided counselling to the family. The stepfather agreed to take Ruth in and CRANE gave the family a resettlement pack which contained everything necessary for providing immediate care for their daughter, including a mattress, bedding, mosquito net, food and soap. Ruth is now happily back home and is doing well at school. Social workers continue to visit her to ensure that she is receiving the care she deserves. If it wasn’t for a network of organisations, Ruth’s life would be looking very different right now. Whether they located her, provided school fees or traced her family, each network member has played a part in Ruth’s story. Through funding, training and developing the technical side of the family reintegration programme, Viva has ensured that CRANE is now in the best possible position to ensure children such as Ruth can return home. Liz Cross is Viva’s Supporter Care Co-ordinator

They referred the case to another CRANE network member who provided Ruth with temporary care and started the process of tracing her family. When they didn’t have the budget to cover all of

Find out more about how CRANE takes children off the streets and reunites them with family by watching their video at

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We advocate that a family home is best for a child 7

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Delhi at night and a diagram of our network model 8

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RESTORER OF HOMES. Isaiah 58: 10, 12 (NLT) 9

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The network approach in San José aims to bring lasting change for children

Teasing out how Viva changes children’s lives can appear complex when you consider the number of players involved. Take Costa Rica as an example. Here you will find the partner network we support and the individual network members – all different organisations but interconnected and working together. The beginning In Costa Rica, most churches invest in what they consider to be ‘their patch’ and there are many examples where the community knows the name of the pastor rather than the church itself. Inspiring churches to work collaboratively is a new concept for many leaders. In 2013, an already existing network of churches named Concilio de Pastores approached Viva asking for help. The network comprised 11 churches that had already been working together for three years. It was located in Purral, a dangerous area of San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and had a vision to help children in their local community. The churches did this by jointly running a bi-weekly kids club that taught children values through sport and art.


After hearing of Viva’s collaborative work in Guatemala, Concilio de Pastores asked us to

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partner with them and provide technical support because they felt alone and without a long-term strategy. Although these churches could in theory identify themselves as a network, it was more like a programme informally run by many different churches with diverse visions and priorities. They did not know which systems to put in place to ensure they made a lasting impact in their community. Viva specialises in supporting networks with issues like these. We know how to promote and stretch a network’s vision so that it inspires new members to join and keeps existing members passionate and involved. A common identity During the first year of partnership, Viva helped Concilio de Pastores create and implement a three-year strategic plan – with the aim of forming a common identity, thereby helping the network become sustainable for the long term. Viva helped focus the network’s activities in three areas: education, entrepreneurship and construction for the local community. These aimed to tackle the root causes of the community’s key issue of violence.

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The growing networks in Costa Rica are uniting churches

At the same time, Viva facilitated the forming of a legally registered board of directors, ensuring financial accountability across the network. This had been a problem in the past when a previous network member left the network, taking with them significant resources. Although brokered by the individual church, they were meant to be used for network activities. Amongst the hard work there was also celebration: Viva encouraged the network to design a logo thereby building their collective identity. It’s not just Viva which has noticed the change in the network – others have too. Willow Creek Church in Chicago has been one of the network’s funders for the last six years. Felix Nieves, the church’s Global Field Manager for Latin America, said that, “The expertise Viva has offered the network is invaluable. Before, they would come to us with countless proposals, each one existing in isolation and detached from the bigger picture. Now they are thinking more strategically, and they

come to us with fewer asks, each one thought through in depth and detail.” This demonstrates another key element of Viva’s added value. Viva helps networks broker external resources that often would not be achieved by networks on their own, develop skills in fundraising and proposal writing, and also recruit international expertise and funds. The big picture This network is now being used to inspire churches in four other areas of San José province to form local networks. The vision for these networks is that as they grow and strengthen, they will join together to form a network of networks. They will then be trained and briefed on the culture of violence that exists in Costa Rica and will be challenged to work together to effectively respond and oppose it. Violence is a country-wide issue, and so it can only be tackled through a country-wide response, which a network of churches, united in purpose, vision and direction, can provide.

We long to further support grassroots networks like the one in Costa Rica for years to come. Your ongoing, monthly gift can help us do that. Use the form on page 13 or go to

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The networks in the Philippines are well placed to respond following natural disasters

CHANGE And now for the technical bit: Brian Wilkinson unpacks Viva’s network model. Viva has inspired the growth of 37 networks with whom we currently partner. Although the context varies in each continent, it is hard to imagine that the network is not the biggest provider of care for children in that city, with an average of 145 local churches and organisations in each location reaching and caring for, on average, 33,000 children.


The terms ‘networking’, ‘partnership’ and ‘collaboration’ have all been devalued in recent years such that people employ them without any practical outworkings. Viva now uses the term ‘collective action’ to describe programmes run jointly by organisations and churches that deliver results on a larger scale over and above the activities of the individual participants.

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COMES THROUGH COLLECTIVE ACTION For example, individual projects can teach their children about child protection but they do not necessarily influence society around them. CRANE, Viva’s partner network in Kampala, Uganda, actively involves children and adults in establishing and strengthening 40 community-run child protection committees across the city – identifying local risks to children and calling on the immediate community to take action to mitigate them. As a result, we have seen real change in the society. Building effective networks is not easy. There are many component parts that need to come together, all largely on a voluntary basis, following a shared vision and methodology. Each network carries a Christian identity and inherent in the beliefs of all participants is the Biblical mandate to ‘be one’ and act as a ‘body’. Networks have to grow stage by stage, in experience, competency, and structure, with jointly-run

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THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE ACTION programmes that increase in scope and scale, with successful project management. Viva’s technical team continually walks alongside these networks, advising and supporting them through the stages of growth, helping to stretch their vision and their ability to move towards it, and to achieve greater effectiveness and impact. We have identified four phases of network growth (see box), the first three taking place within the relatively safe space of like-minded groups with the same beliefs and ethos. But we are clear that to change a city we have to move beyond that and engage with authorities and other civil society groups, business and media. Organisations need focus and have to decide on priorities. Competition for funds provides added impetus to clarify the niche or distinctives that set you apart. Viva has encouraged the networks to begin targeting the big issues that face children: ones that cannot be solved by individual agencies or even denominations, but which take joined-up thinking and joined-up implementation – a network approach, a networked solution.

The Good Treatment Campaign, advocating children be treated better, was run in India last year

Viva’s vision is to empower the local church to work together and, through structured growth and development, be equipped and confident to lead city-wide collective action. Our model and track record over 20 years means that we have something significant to say and, more importantly, have an approach that is worthy of support, upscaling and investment.

Viva’s four phases of network development

Phase 1: Forming and

The goal is to use the power of collective action to find solutions to the big issues of the day. Solutions have to go beyond just direct activities with children and find ways to address attitudes and behaviours of the general population that so badly affect and influence the environment that children grow up in.

establishing a network with a clear purpose that can deliver simple programmes quickly.

Phase 2: Developing the

network’s ability to deliver collaborative programmes whist building capacity to strengthen its effectiveness.

We have seven solution strategies. Viva wants to see cities where: ■ children are transformed through education ■ children are safe from violence and domestic abuse ■ children are free from sexual exploitation and trafficking ■ families are strengthened to prevent breakdown, restoration is facilitated and alternative care options are provided ■ girls’ potential is realised and their self-esteem raised ■ children are protected in emergency situations such as disaster or conflict ■ young people living in the West thrive and reach their potential despite modern culture and peer pressure.

Phase 3:

Delivering ‘solution’ programmes through a sustainable network – demonstrating significant impact for children with the network growing in influence and reputation.

Phase 4: Engaging with

other larger agencies, businesses, city and government authorities, with a shared city-wide strategy for children across all sectors and access to new funding streams.

Brian Wilkinson is Viva’s Head of Network Development


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per month

Viva Network (Hong Kong) Ltd Bank no 004

Branch no 848

Account no 139408838

Name(s) of account holder(s)

Bank number Branch number Account number I/We hereby authorize my/our above named Bank to effect transfers from my/ our account to that of the above named beneficiary in accordance with such instructions as my/our Bank may receive from the beneficiary and/or its banker and/ or its banker’s correspondent from time to time provided always that the amount of any one such transfer shall not exceed the limit indicated above.





I would like to give a one-off donation (Please enclose a cheque payable to ‘Viva’) HK$ My details Name Address

Email I am a HK taxpayer and I would like a tax exemption receipt for my enclosed donation Signature Date /


Please return this form to Viva, Room TA07, 6/F, Woon Lee Commercial Building, 7-9 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui

Telephone: +852 3919 5867

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child protection Hong Kong is an international city with welldeveloped law and education systems. However, behind the prosperity, children here are not as happy as the city’s success portrays. Sadly, in the past six months, 15 students – the majority aged between 13 and 16 – have passed away due to suicide. This tragic statistic reflects something of the concern that many children in Hong Kong are not receiving sufficient care and support. Hong Kong is a fiercely competitive society, which puts children under tremendous pressure and makes them vulnerable as they have no control over their lives, with little to no input into the activities they take part in. It is all planned by parents, who genuinely believe the choices they make are the best for their children. Hong Kong locals describe children as needing to “win at the starting line”. This high expectation leads to a life-long competition which commences before one is born. Academic performance has become the only way to determine one’s success. Children are forced to give up playing and resting time in order to excel in a diverse range of activities, from foreign languages to sports to musical instruments. In many cases, children do not enjoy these activities, but they simply do not have the power to fight against their situation.

With an office in the city,Viva has been conducting proactive Child Protection Training in Hong Kong since 2013 in order to enhance child protection awareness. We were delighted to welcome around 40 delegates at our recent training in February, representing churches, schools and various children learning centres who left equipped with practical methods to improve child protection in their own working environments. Riding on the growing concern of child protection in Hong Kong, Viva has recently recruited a new Child Protection Advisor, Kanice Ho, to work alongside various groups and organisations, and to enhance the concept of proactive child protection into the society. In addition to offering child protection training, the role aims to assist various bodies to write up and implement their related policy, as well as consultancy advice when child abuse situations arise. By implementing these proactive measures in groups and organisations who come into regular contact with children, Viva’s desire is to see more spaces created in Hong Kong where children feel safe, secure and loved.

Before joining Viva, Kanice has worked in public relations and with World Vision China on child-focused community development project management, emphasising child safety and protection. She would love to talk to you if you want to know more about Viva’s child protection training, policy write-up and implementation services. Contact Kanice at +852 3919 5837 or email 14

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Do you have a favourite TV advert? A memorable one for me is an old UNISON ad. The scene opens with a couple of ants squeaking “excuse me” to a big bear, but he doesn’t hear them. A moment later hundreds of ants shout in unison “get out of the way” and the bear moves! It’s a powerful image at many levels: ensuring the voice of the unheard is heard, promoting the power of unity and showing that you can overcome the impossible. I have been fortunate enough to have supported rural communities in trading or buying services together to improve their livelihoods, and to have enabled marginalised communities to co-create solutions, ensuring future generations have access to basic commodities such as food or water. I have seen the power of working together – but it’s not easy. I believe you need: • a core group willing to do the hard work, even when failure looks more likely than success. • a shared vision, values or set of principles that keep a group or network working together. • a diverse set of skills within the group or network so it is able to innovate and adapt. The reason I love Viva is because building networks is at the heart of its support for vulnerable children and their families. At a minimum it ensures different churches don’t replicate activities in the same area of work. As they grow, networks also give an answer to the key question that all development specialists ask – how can we reach more people and deepen the impact in people’s lives with the same resources?

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Viva supports its partner networks to grow over time, building links with local services and city authorities in order to reach more vulnerable children. Local Viva consultants advise these networks about how they can better tackle crucial issues such as child trafficking in Nepal or domestic violence towards teenagers in Guatemala or gender discrimination in India. Four Viva partner networks have now matured to a size and influence where they are proactively aiming to deliver city-wide change – all achieved using the same relatively lowcost network model. Crucially, the solutions developed to tackle these hard-to shift issues come from the communities themselves, meaning that they are designed to work in their local, grassroots context. The dream of bringing hope to children in difficult situations doesn’t feel so impossible when millions of ‘ants’ make some noise and work together. David Bright is Director of Grants for the Open Society Foundations’ Economic Advancement Programme, which works to ensure economic development supports social justice. David has more than 16 years’ experience in international development, most recently as Head of Economic Justice Programmes at Oxfam, and also had a 12year commercial career in business development. David serves on Viva’s Board of Trustees.


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Viva, Room TA07, 6/F, Woon Lee Commercial Building, 7-9 Austin Avenue,Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong t: +852 3919 5867

FACEBOOK.COM/VIVATOGETHERHK Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre. Cert No. SA-COC-09174 Front cover main Š Indigo Skies Photography

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Viva is an operating name of Viva Network (Hong Kong) Limited. Viva Network (Hong Kong) Limited is a company limited by guarantee and registered charity with company no.1657942, and registered in Hong Kong SAR at 22/F Siu On Building, 243-245 Des Vouex Road West, Hong Kong Any children referred to have had their names and photos changed in accordance with our Child Protection Policy.

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Life magazine 6 (HK version)  

With the theme 'The power of collective action', Viva's latest magazine features articles focusing on our work in Uganda and Nepal plus a fe...

Life magazine 6 (HK version)  

With the theme 'The power of collective action', Viva's latest magazine features articles focusing on our work in Uganda and Nepal plus a fe...