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Water is Life! This slogan is often displayed whenever I arrive to visit water projects funded by our donors. We rarely think much about water in day-to-day life. It’s always available. Turn on a tap and it flows freely. Water is Life! I confess I didn’t truly understand the meaning of that slogan until I started working at Water to Thrive. Obviously, clean water is crucial for human health, but what are the other implications? Our name, Water to Thrive, is an apt name considering the definition of thrive; to flourish, prosper, succeed, to grow strongly, to do well. Access to clean, safe water is more than just being healthier, it is about prosperity. As we ask you, our supporters, to stretch with us and Dig Deep to reach our goal of 1,000 wells this anniversary year, it is not without reflecting over the last ten years of Water to Thrive’s history. The impact is monumental; 923 wells to date, 500,000 people with clean water access, three countries. But the implications are far beyond what can be counted. Imagine walking three miles to the nearest (unsafe) water source and then returning home carrying a 45-pound jug of water. The water is used for drinking, cooking and bathing and simply isn’t enough, so you return two more times during the day to make certain your family has enough. What could you do with six to eight hours of time saved from collecting water?

that they have time to enjoy their children. They can cook more nutritious meals. They have time to be better mothers, grandmothers and to serve their communities. When there is a well, time collecting water is minimized. Although most of the people served through your donations are farmers, herders, or otherwise tied to agriculture, clean water enables them to prosper. They can start small businesses selling produce, sewing, creating baskets, raising chickens. They can support their families. Water access creates economic development. Water is Life! As I travel to our water projects, I think about how different my life would be had I been born in a small village in east Africa. I see women my age who have endured long days of hard labor, who are bent from their years and heavy loads of water and firewood, whose hands are as tough as shoe leather. I thank God for my blessings, but I’m also reminded of the Bible verse “from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). Most of us have everything we need and most of what we want. We are blessed with talents, skills, knowledge, and wealth, and it is part of our humanity to care for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for the past 10 years of service to others. And thank you for digging deep with us, supporting our vision of a world where we share generously to provide health, hope and water to all.

Water is Life! When asked about how their lives have changed after receiving the gift of a well, the women explain

Susanne M. Wilson, Executive Director


Founder’s Note A decade of blessings

Ten years ago, when we started Water to Thrive, we could never have imagined how far our efforts would take us. From those first 12 water projects in Ethiopia to project number 1,000, which we hope to reach in the next few months, each new project and each new year has deepened our humility and gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy, especially when we witness the pure joy that lights up the faces of the women, children, and men experiencing clean, safe, sustainable water for the first time in the history of their community. It has been an incredible journey that would not have been possible without the generous support of thousands who have a heart to make a difference in the lives of others. This anniversary year has seen many blessings. We are indeed approaching the milestone of 1,000 wells funded, and have served more than half a million people. We had a team who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for our mission (the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and one of the most rewarding). And throughout the year, our supporters came up with creative ways to help the people we serve. Individuals engaged their Rotary Clubs. Congregations launched new campaigns for our Dig Deep initiative. And in a truly inspiring and motivating campaign, Iowa seventh graders and their school created a water week complete with curriculum and competitions that funded a well and is now evolving into a whole new program, Change4Change, that will be available to all. For many years now, Water to Thrive’s motto has been “Build Wells. Change Lives.” You have been with us as we have built and grown, and you have changed lives in Africa and here at home as well. Thank you for being a blessing to our mission and those we serve.

Dick Moeller, Founder


Mission The ripple effect Valparaiso University student Abigail Fate interned with Water to Thrive this summer, traveling throughout Uganda and then returning to Austin to research data and best practices for us. In this report, Abby gets to the heart of our mission, examining the impact of unsafe water and the catalyst for change that clean water becomes. Why water? There are countless other issues equally deserving of time and money. Unequal access to education, domestic violence, and environmental sustainability, to name a few. So why choose water? There is, of course, the obvious answer: Humans quite literally cannot survive without it. Every organ and every cell in the human body contains water, and access to safe drinking water is essential for life itself. In 2010, recognizing that clean water is a universal human right, the United Nations General Assembly asserted that every person has the right to water that is safe, sufficient, acceptable, accessible, and affordable. Yet, nearly 10 years later, access to water that meets these criteria is far from universal. Water to Thrive’s water project model aims to address this water crisis in sub-Saharan Africa by funding wells that provide safe and clean drinking water, are in close proximity to rural villages, and are coupled with comprehensive community WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) training. Each village elects a water committee to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of their well and make sure all households pay the monthly user fee. Half of each water committee must be women, which contributes to the Waterborne diseases sustainability of the wells – past studies have found that projects run with the full participation and support of women are more sustainable and effective. The WASH cause 502,000 deaths in training, which covers issues of sanitation and hygiene, mobilizes the community to Africa each year, with protect their well from contamination or damage, and the user fee collected each month is put into a fund for repairs. With this model, we have seen a single well serve diarrhea the second communities of up to 500 people for 20 or more years, limiting waterborne diseases most common cause and bringing good health to these communities. Good health is a clear benefit and a necessary step towards development in other areas. Of the 159 million people worldwide who collect water from surface sources like untreated and unprotected springs, ponds, lakes, and swamps, a staggering 58 percent (92 million) live in sub-Saharan Africa. Waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio spread rapidly through contaminated water sources, and diarrhea alone causes 502,000 deaths per year. Children are especially susceptible to waterborne illness, and diarrhea is the second most common cause of death for children under the age of five in Africa. With easy access to clean water, these waterborne illnesses are greatly limited, if not eradicated altogether, and the WASH training adds to the longevity of wells by protecting them from damage and contamination. Good health is just the beginning. Water to Thrive’s model, which emphasizes clean water, close proximity, and WASH training, has a powerful impact, far greater than Left, a young girl digging through dirt to find seeping water in Tigray, Ethiopia, November 2018. Right, Abby working with a family in Uganda in June.

of death for children under the age of 5.


The most notable examples of the ripple effect of clean water occur in the areas of education, empowerment, and economic growth.

Estimates of the burden of water collection that falls on women range between 60 percent and 90 percent.

There is at least a $2 return in economic development for every $1 invested in water development.

just health. In an apt metaphor, clean water sources create a ripple effect in rural communities, their benefits overflowing into other areas of life. The most notable examples occur in the realms of education, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and economic growth. Because children are far more vulnerable to waterborne diseases, access to improved sources of water has an immense impact on their health, which in turn reflects on school attendance. Though access to education is a problem for both genders, female education is especially improved by clean water sources. In sub-Saharan Africa, girls of every school age are more likely to be denied or prevented from realizing their education: for every 100 boys not attending primary school, there are 132 girls. Data suggests that when girls begin their education (in primary school) they tend to continue, but many don’t get this chance. It turns out that water is a huge factor in this gender gap in education. The task of water collection falls heavily and disproportionately on women and girls, a burden estimated between 60 percent and 90 percent. Additionally, studies have found that unimproved water sources (not clean water) are more likely to be distant, indicating a double burden: a far travel time, and unsafe drinking water. As girls are often forced to collect water rather than attend school, their school attendance has been proven to increase significantly for each hour reduction in water collection. Water to Thrive’s wells, which are all clean water in close proximity to rural villages, addresses these concerns and impacts education, especially for young girls. Besides the gap in education, the 40 billion hours each year that women in Africa spend walking to collect water takes away from their energy and ability to be productive in other ways. UNICEF notes that poor water and sanitation resources result in economic losses estimated at $260 billion every year, about 1.5 percent of the GDP of many developing countries. They further state that the global economic return on water spending is $2.00 for every US dollar invested; other figures state that return at as much as $4 to $7 per dollar. Considering social and environmental benefits, this figure is actually much higher. When health is improved through clean water, and time spent collecting water is reduced through the close proximity of wells, this time and energy is freed up for economic growth and development.

Full documentation for statistics cited So why water? The health benefits are reason enough to justify spending time and can be found on our website at resources on sustainable water projects. But it turns out that the benefits are so www.watertothrive.org/the-ripple-effect/ much greater than just health. The ripple effect makes clean water a catalyst for societal change. Or as Water to Thrive puts it: Build wells. Change lives.

Right, this young woman in the Bona Zuria region of Ethiopia has seen her time spent walking for water decrease from two to three hours to less than 20 minutes.


Mission Dig Deep Three wells. Six wells. Fourteen wells. Twenty-five wells. These are just a few of the groups of wells who owe their existence to our supporters who fund one well, then fund another. The clients at the health club Curves-Wells Branch in Austin went from their first campaign straight through their second and then a third — and that club’s owner, who has kept the campaigns going at her business, has now gone on to bring in family and friends in another campaign sponsored by “The Big Bend Gang.” The congregants at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Worth followed up previous campaigns over the years by funding six campaigns in the course of the month of September. Various offices and groups at Concordia University Texas have come together through 13 successful campaigns and have launched number 14. And the Smith family has given again and again in honor of mother Marjorie, through 25 separate water projects in all three of our current service countries. Ever since the original 12 wells were funded by the efforts of the Bible study group at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church in Austin, Water to Thrive has depended on our supporters who come back to us with open hearts, ready to build another well and change more lives. In this 10th anniversary year, closing in on the funding of our one-thousandth well, Water to Thrive launched the Dig Deep initiative, returning to those who have given before, asking them to follow the example of the churches and families and businesses and schools who continue to dig deep and give again. The campaign, launched in late fall 2018, is already bearing fruit, with several campaigns launched by previous supporters. The “wells funded” number has crept up from just over 900 past 930, and with five months to go in our anniversary year, Water to Thrive has every hope of reaching the 1,000-well milestone before our 10th year is up. Our staff has been working hard this year to improve the assistance we can provide to our supporters who are running campaigns, from our new website design launched this spring to an updated and expanding collection of print and online resources. We stand ready to work with you, to dig deep with you, to continue with you this monumental work that is faith in action. Dig Deep with us. Generations of women will benefit from the new hand-dug well in the kebele of Chare Dike, in the community of Donge in the Bona Zuria region of Ethiopia. The well’s completion was celebrated in October 2018. Chare Dike’s well was funded through Water to Thrive’s campaign honoring the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, featured in last year’s Progress Report as a project in need of support. Our donors responded, and now the water is flowing.


Mission Building a partnership for life Water to Thrive has been working with Partners for Community Transformation (PaCT) since we first began building wells in Uganda. Originally known as Mityana Uganda Charity, PaCT is run by executive director Geoffrey Ssemakula, who coordinates our efforts in the country. He joined PaCT in its earliest days in August 2011 and has shepherded its growth and partnerships ever since. Here he reflects on PaCT’s work with Water to Thrive. PaCT’s core strategic objective is “contributing towards the access to quality health care and promotion of access to safe and clean water.” The partnership with Water to Thrive has led to tremendous growth for PaCT in terms of service delivery and staff and system development — and above all, more visibility. We are now viewed as a trusted partner in bringing clean water nearer the people, and can build more partnerships with other institutions and individuals as well. Since the start of our partnership, 30 water sources have been constructed, serving more than 11,378 individuals. This has contributed to improved quality of life through reduced illnesses related to waterborne diseases and thus contributing to the sustainable development goal of ensuring access to safe water and sanitation for all. This difference can be seen in the words of Mrs. Nikuze Leokadia, a resident of Bulamu Village, Namungo parish, Namungo Sub-County: “I am 50 years of age, a mother of six children with four grandchildren. It was very painful and annoying for my children to walk over 3 kilometres to fetch dirty water. I always felt like they were traveling to fetch diseases instead of water but I had no option. Seven years ago, I lost my child Suzan due to typhoid — that pain will never be washed out of my heart. Most of the water she was drinking wasn’t clean enough. “At first, I didn’t believe it would happen when officials from PaCT promised to improve our water status. Many had come before but never fulfilled their promises. The new spring well is very unique. We are happy that the amount of water never reduced, and instead became clean. We are so grateful to PaCT and friends like W2T that facilitated the construction of this spring. We treasure it like a baby. Before barely two weeks would pass by before one of my children is taken to the health centre for treatment — now it’s so surprising that two months have passed without me spending any coin on medical bills. The money saved will surely now help take my children to school. “This is unbelievable, I didn’t realise these things at the start of the construction. but now I can boldly testify on the relevancy of clean water. ” Right, schoolchildren in Kisosonkole, Uganda, celebrate a new water project that included extensive sanitation and hygiene improvements for their school. Left, top two photos, the new spring well in Bulamu; bottom, PaCT executive director Geoffrey Ssemakula, center, with W2T’s Gashaw Simeneh and Susanne Wilson.


Events Chef’s Table cheers! Water to Thrive depends on our supporters to help fund water projects and operations, whether through individual or group gifts, our Water Angels major gift program, specific well-funding campaigns, attendance at one of our events, or giving directly to our Drop by Drop Fund to build a sustainable base for our operations. Chef’s Table Austin is our primary fundraiser for The Drop by Drop Fund. Once again, Water to Thrive’s Chef’s Table Austin was a record-setting event! Through the generosity of our guests, our seventh annual fundraiser surpassed last year’s mark for bringing in the funds we need to keep our operations strong and healthy as we continue to break ground for new water projects. This signature live auction event features well-known Austin chefs who create unique menus that are then auctioned off as dinner parties for the highest bidders. We presented 11 chefs this year, including our Founding Chef, Chef David Bull of Second Bar + Kitchen, Master Butcher Bryan Butler and Chef Louis Ciola of Salt and Time, Chef Aaron Franklin of Loro, Chef Takuya Matsumoto of Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, Chef Brian Moses of Olive & June, Chef Wolfgang Murber of Fabi + Rosi, Chef Janelle Reynolds of @Large, Chef Sterling Ridings of Guild, Chef Stewart Scruggs of Wink, Chef Ian Thurwachter and chocolatier Krystal Craig of Intero, and Chef Andrew Wiseheart of Chicon. The evening would not have been possible without the generous sponsorships of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Benold’s Jewelers, St. David’s Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, H-E-B, First Texas Honda, and Plains Capital Bank. Our sponsors’ unstinting support also set a record this year, nearly doubling previous years’ sponsorships, and set the table for a fantastic evening. The high-energy auction team of Seth Hale and the Cowboy Auctioneers kept the excitement building and the bids climbing throughout the night, and as our guests’ generosity kept pace, we finished the evening by breaking last year’s record! Water to Thrive’s team is appreciative beyond measure of the community’s embrace of this event. Our auctioneers, chefs, and guests alike brought an amazing energy to the room, and the generosity and support helps us continue to expand our work and further our mission.

Left, photos by Eszter Barany. Right, Chef Bull with children at a W2T project in Tanzania, June 2018. See more photos from Chef’s Table Austin 2018 on our Facebook page at bit.ly/ChefsTableAustin2018

sustaining the mission of


Outreach A new generation joins us In May 2018, the seventh grade at Decorah Middle School in Decorah, Iowa, capped a unit of studying about water issues with a One Well week, during which they held a penny drop fundraiser, visited local businesses to learn more about water use, and made their own six-kilometer Walk for Water to a local river. In the process, they raised awareness and brought in enough change to fund an entire water project with Water to Thrive. Inspired by the motivation and action of these students and their teachers and administrators, and with their input and assistance, Water to Thrive is launching the Change4Change youth program. For any school, classroom, or youth group that wants to launch a Change4Change water education/coin collection program of their own to raise awareness and funds to support our mission of building wells and changing lives, from elementary school through college, we‘re here to help. We can provide fundraising ideas, customize promotional and informational resources, and give you connections to such partners as Wisconsin water company Evolve Water. Meanwhile, here in Austin, Water to Thrive has been tapped for partnership with the University of Texas’ Project LEAD, an award-winning year-long project management and leadership development program. Our committed team of students is providing us with time, skills, and creativity to help us develop another potential new event and to support our small, largely part-time staff in ongoing project management needs. It’s a new level of community engagement for Water to Thrive, and one that brings our mission and our message to a sizable and active new audience. Outreach has always been important as we’ve sought to bring attention to the water crisis and find ways to address it. With our small staff, we have relied heavily on our Ambassadors and volunteers. Ambassadors make presentations to civic groups, schools, and businesses on our behalf. Our volunteers come to us from churches, colleges, even high school students seeking service hours. One such student, Madison Barrick, held a lemonade stand for Water to Thrive 10 years ago, and this year was a tireless volunteer at Chef’s Table Austin. As we seek to expand our reach and programs in the decade to come, we welcome any and all to help us spread the word!

Right and top left, seventh-grade students from Decorah Middle School walked three miles to the Upper Iowa River to cap off their awareness and fundraising Change4Change campaign. Middle left, the University of Texas Project LEAP team working with Water to Thrive. Bottom left, volunteers Joyce Moeller and Madison Barrick provide logistical support at Chef’s Table Austin.


Follow our progress

2008-2017 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018-2019 2018-2019 2018-2019 2018-2019

Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, & Uganda Sidamo, Ethiopia Ambo, Ethiopia Mityana, Uganda Manyara, Tanzania Gondar, Ethiopia Tigray, Ethiopia Sidamo, Ethiopia APAC, Uganda Ambo, Ethiopia

Various

408,678

742

Bona Zuria Chelia Kalangaalo Kiteto Dembia Asgede Tsimbla Bona-Goriche Abongomola Chelia

11,000 10,935 4,700 12,189 3,624 27,710 16,205 3,859 8,801

20 20 10 10 10 61 30 10 20

507,521

933

2017 Full Project Sponsors The most active 2017 campaigns were those of Drilling for Hope, Karen Flewelling, Saratoga Springs, NY; the Smith Family of Austin, TX; the Stuart Family of Austin, TX; the Kerr Family of Austin, TX; Matthew Nauss with the GE Foundation in Liberty Township, OH; the Moeller Family of Miami, FL; St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ft. Worth, TX; and Triumphant Love Lutheran Church in Austin, TX. Our deepest gratitude to all who gave the blessing of clean, safe water. The Aldeman Family • North Liberty, IA Arnold Foundation, in honor of Bill Coon • Austin, TX Augustana College • Rock Island, IL The Baumann Family, in memory of Lynda Baumann • Paragould, AR The Belachew & Scurry Family, Quench My Thirst • Austin, TX Bethany Lutheran Church • Austin, TX The Boerger Family, in memory of Margaret Boerger • Austin, TX The Buford Family, in honor of Jack Arlitt • Austin, TX Carolyn Rice Bartlett Charitable Foundation • Austin, TX Central College • Pella, IA Christ Lutheran Church • Brenham, TX The Decker Family • San Antonio, TX The Dobson and Wooldridge Family • Austin, TX Drilling For Hope - Karen Flewelling • Saratoga Springs, NY

Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church • Prairie Village, KS Faith Lutheran Church • Dickinson, TX The Foster & Sorum Family, in honor of Pippa Nason • Minneapolis, MN Gloria Dei Lutheran Church • Iowa City, IA Hope Lutheran Church • Sioux Falls, SD The Ischy Family • Round Rock, TX The Kaler Family, in honor of John and Patricia Kaler • Austin, TX The Kerr Family • Austin, TX The Kolander Family • Marion, IA Love of Christ Lutheran Church • Weslaco, TX The Lund Family • Greenfield, MN Matthew Nauss with the GE Foundation • Liberty Township, OH The McKeen Family • Fife Lake, MI The Mester Family • Houston, TX The Moeller Family • Miami, FL The Moeller Family • Waco, TX

New Life Lutheran Church • Pearland, TX Pine Creek United Methodist Church • Livingston, MT The Quever Family • Burlington, WI Redeemer Lutheran Church • Paragould, AR The Smith Family • Austin, TX St. Paul Lutheran Church • Columbus, TX St. Paul Lutheran Church • Ft. Worth, TX St. Paul Lutheran Church • Yorktown, TX Strides for Africa, Chris Jimieson • Fitchburg, WI The Stuart Family • Austin, TX Tree of Life Lutheran Church • Conroe, TX Triumphant Love Lutheran Church • Austin, TX U.T. Little Longhorns • Austin, TX Wartburg College • Waverly, IA Water To Thrive Supporters - Mother’s Day Campaign, in honor of mothers everywhere The Wilson Family • Austin, TX Zion Lutheran Church • Brenham, TX

Our sincerest thanks go also to those donors whose generosity of spirit is accompanied by a request to remain anonymous.


Total contributions through 2017: $6,987,605* Percentage of expenditures

Administrative Fundraising

*Total contributions for W2T from inception to December 31, 2017, are based on unaudited financial statements, not including a startup grant from Thrivent Financial. These expenditures are made possible by restricted gifts that are identified by donors and sponsors, designated for specific water projects, and by unrestricted gifts that cover operating expenses from Water Angels, Chef’s Table Austin, and other fundraising activities. Detailed financials for each year (IRS Form 990) are available at watertothrive.org/about-us/financial-information.

Water to Thrive in-country partners

Water to Thrive Board of Directors Dick Moeller, Chairman Ed Scharlau, Treasurer Jim Sorensen, Secretary Lynne Dobson Joel Hinkhouse Carol Kaemmerer Dr. Ryan Sutton

Past projects Current projects

A Glimmer of Hope, Ethiopia Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Water Resource Development Commission, Ethiopia International Lifeline Fund, Uganda KINAPPA Development Programme, Tanzania Mekane Yesus Central Gibe Synod, Ethiopia Mekane Yesus South Central Ethiopia Synod, Ethiopia Partners for Community Transformation (PaCT, formerly Mityana Uganda Charity), Uganda Organization for the Rehabilitation and Development of Amhara, Ethiopia Oromia Development Association, Ethiopia Relief Society of Tigray, Ethiopia St. Paul Partners, Tanzania


Vision Water, to thrive

When we began our service 10 years ago, the name Water to Thrive was chosen for a reason. First, “water,” the blessing we take for granted that is in such short supply for most of the world. We would work to provide that blessing to people in need. And then, “thrive,” being able to grow and prosper and achieve. For a decade, we have worked diligently, with your support, to build wells and change lives. Lives like Areke Mulu’s. This 32-year-old mother’s walk for water has gone from six hours round-trip to a few minutes and her six children have seen the benefit. She is able to work in the fields to supplement the family income, and “we save our time, energy, and money once paid for medicine and the clinic” because of waterborne illness from the unprotected pond they used before. Lives like 16-year-old Selam Terkegn’s. Much of her time was spent finding water sources, the river in the rainy season and unprotected ponds in the dry season. “Waterborne diseases were common among us,” and the nearest clinic was a sixhour round-trip walk. Now Selam says she is able “to study hard and score good results. I have a vision to be a medical doctor in the future to heal my people.” Lives like Lete Birhan Gebru’s. Lete is 60, and recalls friends who have died from waterborne disease. The nearest unprotected pond was a two-hour walk away, “and rich in worms, mosquitoes, and leeches. But now I get a safe water source. We saved our time and energy and become more healthy.” These are just three stories from more than 500,000 we could tell. Time and again, we hear that access to clean, safe water has led to so much more. Time to work in the fields and for their families, leading to economic empowerment. Time to go to school, leading to educated children who go on to lead better lives. And, in the most basic result of all, time to be healthy, to live without fear of debilitating and deadly disease. As we move into our next decade, we aspire to strengthen our mission and make an even greater difference. We want our mission to be sustained, at each water project in rural Africa and here at home. We want to reach out to bring water to larger projects like a women’s hospital in Mekele, Ethiopia, where we are working to address a contaminated and corrosive water source, or to the Kisosonkole school in Uganda. We want to combine the energy of new young campaigners with the experience of our stalwart longtime supporters, learning from all of you how best we can continue our work. Here at Water to Thrive, as we look into the future, we too will dig deep, to tap into the resources of faith and dedication that each of you have shown us through the years. We are committed to being good and responsible stewards of your gifts, both tangible and intangible, and to bringing the double blessing of our name to all of those we serve. Water to Thrive. Build wells. Change lives.


Water to Thrive Progress Report 2018  

Water to Thrive updates supporters on various aspects of our mission for 2018 and provides official non-profit financial and donor informati...

Water to Thrive Progress Report 2018  

Water to Thrive updates supporters on various aspects of our mission for 2018 and provides official non-profit financial and donor informati...

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