In this Exchange

* Humanitarian Emergency in Tajikistan
* Building Community after the Earthquake in Peru
* Legal Empowerment for the Poor in Benin
* Human Development in Ghoramara, Bangladesh
* Disabled Youth Organize against Discrimination in Chile
* Working to End Child Labor in Egypt
* New Possibilities for Human Development Training in Nepal
* Footsteps in a New Direction in Australia
* Strategic Partnership with the Global Forest Coalition Funds 3 ICAs
* Unlocking the Potential of Youth Participation
* Show Off your ICA Affiliation
* Monthly Reporting from the Secretariat
* Order your World of Human Development DVD while they last


Humanitarian Emergency in Tajikistan
Lambert Okrah

Over recent months, Tajikistan has faced the harshest winter in living memory. Heavy snowfall has led to blocked roads across the country, affecting supplies of food and other necessities. Water supplies are inadequate, as supply lines either break or freeze. Frozen rivers have also afflicted the nation’s primary power source, hydroelectric power. As a result, severe power shortages and complete blackouts are affecting not only ordinary people, but also major institutions that normally provide refuge, with nearly half of the country’s health facilities facing dire energy crises.1 Cold-related illnesses killed 232 newborns in January alone.2 For images, click here.

This humanitarian emergency has largely flown under the radar of the international media. We received a sign of hope last Tuesday, as the United Nations finally issued an appeal for humanitarian aid. Despite having electricity for just 3 hours each day, our colleagues at ICA Tajikistan have continued their programming in the areas of good governance, peace building, youth empowerment, and participation methods training. Yet it has not been easy, as the ICA Tajikistan staff and their families have also been directly affected.

We asked how the global ICA community could help, and received this response from Executive Director Marina Safarova:

“Thank you very much for your support and care in order to help us. We discussed with our staff and made a decision that what we need most of all is a generator, as we have an electricity only 1 hour and half in the morning, and the same in the evening. A generator would allow us to switch on 2 or 3 computers and 1 printer. We do not ask from you money for us or our families. Rather, we need funds for normal office activities and timely realization of our programs and projects.”

Beyond the humanitarian aid to be provided by relief agencies, ICA Tajikistan’s human development programs will be essential in rebuilding communities’ confidence and hope for the future, as well as their motivation and capacity to work together to fix the structural and governance challenges that led to the present emergency.

The cost of a generator is USD $1500. Since we first appealed for your help one week ago, our network has donated or pledged $1,230. To all who have donated or pledged – thank you. If you have not yet chipped in, I would be so grateful if you would do so now. We know that we can count on you.

Please help us reach our goal by donating now – online, via cheque, or via wire transfer – and note “Tajikistan emergency” in the comments field or memo line. We will report back to let you know how much we have raised and the impact that your gift has made.

1 “Tajikistan: Severe cold and energy supply crisis threatens health.” World Health Organization Press Release. 12 February 2008

2 “Severe cold endangers Tajikistan.” United Press International. 19 February 2008


Building Community after the Earthquake
Ken Hamje

The 8.0 earthquake that struck 200 km south of Lima on 15 August 2007 introduced the ICA Peru staff not only to emergency relief, but also to Chincha – a coastal city of 120,000 residents who urgently needed our assistance.  A few days after the quake, we got a call from ICA Japan offering funds if we could design a relief plan.  We challenged our highest creativity to find a way to use these funds to bring about lasting change for the families of this traditionally poor city.

After a brief first round of emergency aid distribution and needs assessment, we decided to focus on providing temporary housing, since about 75% of families were literally living in the streets, afraid to go near their crumbled houses in the midst of many strong, daily after-shocks.  We designed an 18 sq. meter house with a solid wood frame covered in plastic and sheathed in strong bamboo mats, all touched off with a fine hinged wooden door.  With some careful purchasing, we were able to build these solid houses for under $135 each, including all staff and administrative costs for the project.

What we are really proud of is not so much the relief we have given, but the “30-2-5 system” that we created to engage the people of Chincha in building all 1,650 houses to a very high standard.  We divided the target geography into 30 sectors, with each needing about 50-60 homes.  We asked the people of each sector to send 2 people to a 1-week training to become the volunteer “promoters.” We gave the promoters training, tools, materials and support – plus a heavy dose of spirited vision for the future of their community, and they did all the rest.  The results were so dramatic that ICA Japan was able to get a second grant of Japanese government funds and another 60 promoters began in January to build 1,800 more houses in adjacent neighborhoods.  All of this has led us to believe that we can make a model city of this dusty, impoverished place, and we are working on some large goals for the future to make this happen. 

One promoter captured the feelings of us all when she said, “Maybe we need another earthquake to keep us moving to make this a great community!”   We think we’ve found another way to do that: tapping into the near-forgotten culture of the people to work together to deal with a highly-visible, common necessity.  That’s the way that those fabulous, terraced hillsides were built in hundreds of cultures around the world, and we believe that it’s that same cultural knowledge that can address the necessities of communities today.  We’re just rubbing the bottle and awakening the genie within.

Click here for a previous article about ICA’s work following the 15 August 2007 earthquake.

Help build houses and community in Chincha with a Working Gift


Legal Empowerment for the Poor
Kassimou Issotina
Translated and condensed from a longer report by Katie Burke

The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor was founded through the initiative of former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, with the support of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Comprised of key figures, this commission is responsible for organizing national consultations in several countries to directly gather legal grievances from the poor. Already, conferences have been organized on five continents and in many countries, including Peru, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, Egypt and Jordan. 

In Francophone Africa, four countries have been chosen for national conferences, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. In Benin, the conference is piloted by Clotilde N. Médégan, President of the High Court of Justice of Benin, and a member of the Commission. The practical organisation is managed by the Center for Distance Education, with the support of UNDP.

As a prelude to the national conference in Benin, representative communities were designated for consultations. In this area, ICA Benin was chosen to drive the community mobilisation and designation of representatives from Donga, Atacora, Borgou and l’Alibori to the national conference.

These four communities showed great interest in the debates. From Donga, for example, participants decided to continue to deepen their reflections after the departure of the team of facilitators.

We note certain distinctions in the concerns of the populations of these areas, but all the interventions reveal poverty as the principle block. Given that the themes debated in the consultations circled around the words ‘poverty’ and ‘justice’, the present question is: from which aspect are we to begin to build solid bases of development in Benin?

The general impression that emerges concerning access to justice is that the populations of these communities feel that the poor are treated unfavourably by the judicial services in Benin. This situation reduces many citizens to silence, from fear of becoming involved in a process that is much too complicated and costly.
Concerning property rights, the participants compel the government to put in place mechanisms permitting the efficient regulation property litigations in a consensual spirit, in the interest of avoiding conflicts at every level.

In terms of workers rights, the state must make this a priority, in order to shelter the poor from the abuse of unscrupulous employers who do not respect the rights of workers, especially in the private sector.

The communities are aware that evolution in the informal sector does not permit real sustainable development. At the same time, they feel that the administrative formalities of the formal sector are too complicated for them; this business would require the help of a higher level agent to facilitate the process of transition.

At the end of the national conference, the participants felt they had been given an opportunity to be heard by decision-makers at a higher level.

The decision of UN agencies to involve local NGOs in this global dialogue is commendable. It is thus hoped that the Benin government will also join in this movement, in the interest of putting pressure on associations that are in direct contact with the communities in question. The delegates from North Benin strongly wish to see the recommendations issued from these workshops be effectively applied, so that their living conditions may soon change. In order to do this, they suggest putting into action a monitoring committee that will contribute effectively to the concretisation of this objective.


Human Development in Ghoramara
Mohammad Azizur Rahman

Ghoramara Asrayan Prokalpa is a landless community, for which the government has provided family homes. With minimal physical infrastructure, including water and sanitation facilities, no schools, and no employment opportunities, the residents of Ghoramara face conditions similar to those in slum areas. As a result, ICA Bangladesh has undertaken integrated human development activities in Ghoramara since 2004, which aim to address both short-term and long-term educational, health, employment and environmental needs.

   Elder speaks during community meeting in Ghoramara.  
   Community meeting in Ghoramara.  

In the early days of the project, the most urgent need identified was that of education. ICA helped the community to open an elementary school, which is now in its 2nd phase. On 14 December 2007, a full-day meeting was held in front of the school building, in order to develop a Community Vision and Action Plan for 2008. In addition to staff from ICA Bangladesh, we were grateful to also have the participation of Maria and Richard Maguire of ICA Australia.

During this full day of planning, shared community values were identified. A community timeline from the beginnings of Ghoramara through the present day was developed, with the village map supplemented by pictures from Google Earth. Looking at these maps as well as the social process triangles, the community was asked to name some of their assets. The workshop went through vision, issues and directions. At the end of the directions workshop, the community was asked who was willing to volunteer to work toward one of the six suggested directions for future action. Names were written down in each category, providing a public witness to each person’s commitment. They were also asked who would be willing to serve as a volunteer coordinator. Both a man and a woman were identified for each group.

Funds were raised to support this vision through the ICAI Working Gifts Program, which enabled activities that are in line with the community’s vision and action plan. Since January 2008, funds have been gratefully received for school supplies, school uniforms, a school instructor’s salary, dressmaking training, sewing machines for disadvantaged women, a richshaw (non-motorized vehicle) to help generate income for unemployed men, installation of water supply facilities, and the repair of tube wells. We are most grateful to all who have supported and continue to support human development in Ghoramara through Working Gifts.

Support human development in Ghoramara with a Working Gift


Disabled Youth Organize against Discrimination
Isabel de la Maza and Amanda Urrutia

A group of disabled youth, trained in community leadership by ICA Chile, have organized to establish a community organization called “Entrepreneurs in Action.”

   Disabled youth working together.

Following a recent organizational meeting, they approached a restaurant in the city of Valparaiso and were not allowed to enter, simply because they were all disabled. After much discussion, the organization decided to file an official complaint with SERNAC, the consumer defense service. They also went to the media, explaining their problem and the importance of defending the rights of all citizens to attend any restaurant or recreational place. The story quickly became headline news all over Chile.

While Chilean law forbid all types of discrimination, many people continue to trample on disabled peoples’ human rights. The only mechanism that disabled people have to defend themselves is strong organization, through which they can join forces to defend their rights. Entrepreneurs in Action has now sent a message to the rest of the country, so that everyone understands the unfairness faced by disabled people – as well as the fact that everyone is subject to become disabled as a result of an accident. Lectures have now been delivered at university sites and schools across Valparaiso, in order to explain the real situation of disabled persons, so that everybody can understand their struggle and help to prevent future mistreatment.

   Training session for disabled youth.  

ICA Chile has a longstanding commitment to develop the leadership and community engagement potential of disabled persons. The Participative Leaders’ Training Program was designed in response to the problems that disabled people face in getting involved in their communities. Disabled youth, in particular, suffer from deep depression; they are also largely poor, isolated, have few friends, are dependant on others, and have low self-esteem. On top of all these challenges, they face discrimination.

To help counteract this trend, we have developed a number activities designed to help disabled youth strengthen their social skills and self-esteem. ICA Chile has trained youth in group management techniques, resource identification, project planning, group organization, and enterprise development, in order to help them set clear goals and face their challenges. The story of Entrepreneurs in Action is one of the many success stories that has emerged from this work.


Working to End Child Labor
Assem Kamal

Children make up a significant component of Egypt’s informal work force, which is largely unregulated and unmonitored. Informal labor too often translates into long hours and rigorous physical demands – affecting children’s ability to go to school and develop into healthy adults.

ICA Middle East and North Africa helps children ages 8-11 years to leave the informal workforce and enter school. As a first step, we work with children by inviting them to express their feelings, talk freely about their problems, and envision dreams for the future. Many children tell us that they have never been asked about their dreams or feelings.

On a parallel track, we work to raise awareness within the broader society about the major safety and health risks faced by child laborers. We also aim to engage more people in working to address the problem. One excellent example of success on this front is the role of the Japanese embassy in supporting the development of schools in Cairo’s largest sum, Manshiet Nasser. Click here for a previous article about ICA’s work in Manshiet Nasser.

Provide medical care to a vulnerable child in Egypt with a Working Gift


New Possibilities for Human Development Training
Atma Ram Timsina

ICA Nepal is recognised as a national leader in human development training and facilitation, community empowerment, and research. Until recently, our training programs were exclusively short-term courses. A new 3-month course, "Professional Career Development Training on NGO and Personal Leadership Skills” (PCDT) has broken that mold. Piloted in 2007, the course includes a 1-month internship programme and is attended by job seekers, especially students, as well as employees from NGOs, government, and business seeking improved performance at work. Over time, we expect that this programme will help develop human capacity across Nepal.

Over the last few years, ICA Nepal has carried out not only Technology of Participation courses, but also a host of other participatory training programmes focused on topics such as leadership, management and conflict management. As a result, ICA Nepal has played a vital role in enabling individuals and organisations to transform their operational styles, from traditional ways to more participatory approaches. The PCDT course has brought this perspective to a larger populace, in order to enable them achieve their personal and organisational goals.

The PCDT course has exposed many more people to ICA tools and techniques, and provided them with both certificates and field work experience. As we explored avenues the program’s long-term sustainability, we have decided to pursue the establishment of a full-fledged training centre, leading to a recognised training and academic institute. We will report in a future Network Exchange on how these plans are developing!

Support human development training in Nepal with a Working Gift


Footsteps in a New Direction
Robyn Hutchinson

Undoubtedly the most exciting thing that has happened in Australia in recent times is the election of a new federal Labor Government.  This has brought a new sense of hope, realism, and buoyancy to the nation, across the sectors.

Most encouraging of all is the government’s decision, finally supported by the current opposition (Liberal government), to make a formal Apology to the Stolen Generations, who were forcibly removed from their families.  Since the “invasion” by European settlement 220 years ago, Indigenous Australians have had their land, their children, their rights, and their culture stolen from them.  On 13 February, at the first sitting of Parliament in 2008, Mr. Rudd, our new Prime Minister, said SORRY on behalf of the nation. This is the first symbolic footstep towards significant reconciliation in action.  The challenge now is achieving social justice through a wider apology for all the past wrongs, which is an essential in order to achieve a treaty and constitutional change. 

This development is an exciting backdrop to the work of ICA Australia, as we seek to serve both Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Our most recent meeting, held in Aeotoroa, New Zealand – “land of the long white cloud” – focused on our key programs.

Continuing to explore how we best make a difference in the Ecological Awareness program area, a video clip about Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest linked us to the millions of people who care. A recently developed Enviroschools DVD and kit by our New Zealand colleagues also inspired us on this journey.

We further recognized and deepened our commitment to partnering with other key organizations in supporting Indigenous rights and social justice in Australia, as well as community development work in Timor Leste.

Continuing our close collaboration with our colleagues in the Asia-Pacific Region is another major aspect of our work.  The most recent highlight was our participation in the First Asia-Pacific Regional ICA Conference in Bangladesh, during which colleagues from 6 ICAs gathered to plan for the region and conduct ToP training for community development.

The continuing work of developing and delivering the 6-module Transformational Leadership Program has taken another step forward, with the first certification event scheduled for May.  As custodians of the ToP methods, we believe passionately in the continuing collaborative development of this process, both nationally and globally. In particular, the application of ToP processes to help with the most needy situations is uppermost in our minds.

We are currently exploring with the Federal Government the possibility of facilitating nation-wide community forums, which would serve as input for the Government’s Ideas Summit “Australia 2020,” through which 1000 key local people will gather in April, in order to look for answers to Australia’s 10 most critical problems.

What inspires us?

  • Our times on a Maori marae, in New Zealand, or with our Indigenous colleagues in Lake Mungo, South Australia, or in the stillness of Kangaroo Island, are just a few memorable events that inspire and affirm that “the task before us now, is to build the earth.”
  • The many individual and corporate successes and failures in caring for human society, which become a movement to be reckoned with.
  • Our work with “building community” in local communities, schools, voluntary organizations, workplaces, the corporate world, and government
  • Seeing the ah-ha when participatory methods are applied to the daily lives of people
  • Partnerships and collaborative efforts
  • Being part of a global, member-driven network of people who care

As we celebrated our nation’s first symbolic footsteps towards a reconciled Australia, with a formal SORRY to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous Australians on 13th February, we were reminded of our global calling and responsibility.

Participants at the recent ICA Australia meeting in Aeotoroa, New Zealand.


Strategic Partnership with the Global Forest Coalition Funds 3 ICAs
Sarah Farina

Over the past year, the Secretariat has facilitated a strategic partnership with the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), based in Amsterdam. The GFC has now approved grant funding for 3 ICAs – Bangladesh, Nepal, and the re-activated Cameroon – through its Underlying Causes Initiative. Through participation in this initiative, these 3 ICAs will each receive 9000 Euros in order to organize a national workshop on the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation in their country.

The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) is an international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations involved in international forest policy. The GFC was founded in the year 2000 by 19 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations (IPOs) – including ICA Ghana. ICA International and the GFC share a profound concern over the wide gap that exists between the commitments made to human development within global forest policies and the realities of forest-dependent people on the ground.

The majority of the world’s poor depend on forest resources for basic livelihood security. In recognizing this fact, the international community has created a series of global forest policies that include clear human development priorities as essential components of sustainable forest management. Yet both forest loss and poverty among forest-dependent people continue to grow. Sustainable forest management will only be achieved where forest-dependent people and civil society organizations have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in forest policy design, implementation, and review.  Meaningful participation requires knowledge and understanding of global policy-making processes and policy documents, including knowledge of the rights of different stakeholders; ability to articulate the wisdom gained through experience and to formulate responses and feedback to policy documents; access to policy-making processes; and forums for open communication and collaboration.

ICA International has participated in key international forest policy dialogues, including participation in meetings of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF I-VII), United Nations Forum on Forests, Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and International Tropical Timber Organization, among others. ICAI advocates for recognition of the relevance of traditional forest-related knowledge in sustainable forest management, adoption of a holistic approach to sustainable forest management, recognition of the importance of benefits sharing in achieving sustainable forest management (with particular reference to improving the livelihoods of forest dependent communities), and recognition of the special roles of Indigenous Peoples in attaining sustainable forest management.


Unlocking the Potential of Youth Participation
Michael Watson

Imagine young people across the world shaping the futures of their communities. 
Imagine young people sharing best practice from projects across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. 
Imagine ICA leading a global initiative to unlock this incredible potential in young people.

While the past decade has seen a growing recognition of the importance and benefits of youth participation in decision-making and community building, the most recent United Nations World Youth Report finds that over 200 million youth still live in poverty, 130 million are illiterate, 88 million are unemployed, and 10 million are living with HIV and AIDS. In addition, youth policy and programs are too often driven by negative images that ignore the positive role youth can play in resolving their own challenges, as well as in broader development and community building efforts.

This is where ICA comes in. Across the world, ICA advocates for the inclusion of youth in communal decision-making at all levels. National ICAs provide specialized training to prepare youth for effective engagement and facilitate the a meaningful role for youth in development processes. Highlights of some ICA projects being implemented worldwide to empower and promote youth participation include:

  • In Egypt: Egyptian and immigrant Sudanese youth worked together to establish a youth cultural center and combat discrimination
  • In the Netherlands: youth from across the country participated in facilitation and human development training, in preparation for volunteer service in developing countries
  • In South Africa: youth in Johannesburg educated their peers about HIV and gender-based violence, and mobilized voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) campaigns to eliminate the stigma around HIV testing
  • In Tajikistan: youth trained as carpenters in the Tajikokjar village produced school desks, which were presented to youth at an Uzbek school in the neighboring Goj village – site of inter-ethnic hostilities in previous generations

The Global Task Force on Youth Participation has just been set up in order to draw together past and current experiences, and look together toward the future. The principal goal of the Task Force is to create a common story and articulate a common vision about the unique contribution of the ICA approach in maximizing youth participation. With the foundation of our shared ICA values, the task force will look toward establishing common goals, recognizing shared assumptions, understanding target populations, and refining outcome-driven plans for the future.

Will you help to support this global initiative to empower young people everywhere? 

I want to identify those people within the ICA network who have an interest in working on youth issues and who would like to explore collaboratively the possibilities in achieving concrete outcomes for the network as a whole. 

Those of you who have been involved in the Task Force on HIV and AIDS will know that I have just recently established an on-line process for collaboration, using the project management software that the ICAI secretariat has recently adopted.  Relying solely on conference calls and emails is limiting, and this new on-line process should make collaboration easier and more participatory. 

If you have not already been in touch, please email me if you want to join the Global Task Force on Youth Participation in order to share your experience and contribute to shaping the policy and plans for Youth Participation within the ICA international network.

Those who are interested in joining the Task Force will receive an email inviting them to join the on-line collaborative process, where they will be able to see the list of other participants, share documents and contribute to the process.


Show Off your ICA Affiliation
Sarah Miller

Proud to be associated with the global ICA network?

Show off your affiliation with a low-cost purchase from the ICA Shop! Winter and summer shirts, caps, buttons, magnets, bags, mug, and more are available for shipping to all countries. A portion of every purchase goes directly to help us advance human development.

Want to promote both ICA and the Millennium Development Goals? Order a free poster!


Monthly Reporting from the Secretariat
Katie Burke

Wondering what your Secretariat is up to? We want to tell you all about it.

Have a look at the 2008 Work Plan and revised monthly reporting form, which we have designed to give you a snapshot picture of major activities and outcomes in all program areas each month.

To have a look, log in to the member’s section of the ICAI website and follow the link to “Monthly Staff Reports.” There you can access the 2008 Work Plan (full version and summary), the new monthly report for January, and an archive of reports from 2007 and 2006. New reports are posted by the 15th of the following month.


The World of Human Development on DVD:
Order your copy of while they last!

Sarah Miller

Join Oprah Winfrey, Ben Kingsley, and Richard Attenborough on a global tour across four decades of ICA’s work to unlock the potential in every person.

The World of Human Development: Origins of The Institute of Cultural Affairs is now available as a stunning, digitally-remastered DVD.

A personal note from Wayne Marshall Jones, the Producer of ICAI's 30th Anniversay DVD:


People new to the ICA network may not fully realize that ICA's global work is rooted in beginnings in Chicago more than forty years ago, and first flowered in a Global Band of Human Development Projects that is more than thirty years old.


To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of that global sign of social demonstration, ICAI has released on DVD the groundbreaking film, The World of Human Development, introduced by Ben Kingsley, along with Fifth City: A Decisional City, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, and Courage to Care, narrated by Richard Attenborough.


Together on one DVD, these are the core documentary narratives that will give viewers a breathtaking picture of the depth and breadth of ICA's transformative work in local communities across the globe.


Those of you who have been longtime voluteer staff and colleagues associated with ICA's work around the world will find this DVD a special treat! Not only will you see your colleagues – and maybe yourself! – in action during the early days of ICA's global work, but you will relive your engagement with immediacy and delight.


You will now have a new interpretive tool to dramatise the roots of human development and underline the urgency of including every human being in forging a global future for humanness in the 21st century.


ICA colleagues in dispersion will appreciate the value of gaining access to the rich history of the organization's roots. Since the vast majority of the ICA's archival materials are currently inaccessible, I am personally honored to work with ICA International to achieve a wide DVD release of these films as a gift to "those who care."

Included on one DVD:

Fifth City: A Decisional City (1983), 16 minutes
The story of Fifth City, narrated by Oprah Winfrey

The World of Human Development (1977), 35 minutes
A tour of ICA human development projects in 10 countries, with an introduction and extro by Ben Kingsley, and narration by Mary D’Souza

Courage to Care (1984), 16 minutes
Richard Attenborough explores the origin of ICA global conferences on human development at the International Exposition of Rural Development in New Delhi

The DVD is region 0 universal and double-sided NTSC/PAL, which means it will play anywhere in the world.

A complimentary copy is included in your individual or family membership, with additional copies available as gifts for your family and friends at a reduced members price. The DVD is also available for purchase by non-members. Order your copies of this treasure while they last!

Designed by Peter Ellins; edited by Sarah Miller.
Published by The Institute of Cultural Affairs International,
401 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A8, Canada.
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