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Brownie Ebal: This Beautiful Ugandan Soul and her Kitabu-Buk Project

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1492281_293714634149137_8912800859694130244_oThis beautiful soul will amaze you. She has rolled up her sleeves to distribute books to the Kids in most need.  While her age-mates spend a lot of time on Instagram taking photos of themselves and their food, this 23-year-old is preoccupied with where she can get the next set of books to take to the children of her country. Here is her story.

How to do you describe yourself?

I am a hard working and passionate individual who believes in the love of humanity. In Primary school, I studied at Greenhill Academy then Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga for O’ level and finally Nabisunsa Girl’s school for A’level. I come from a family of 5, I am the second born in the family. My father is Christopher Ebal , and my mother is Joyce Ebal.

You are the World at School Global Youth Ambassador, how did that happen?

I applied for the UN Advocacy Group and failed to get it, they then recommended me to apply for the Global Youth Ambassadors programme, so I did and got it.

What inspired you to start the Kitabu-Buk Project?

When I attended the youth assembly at the United Nations conference, in New York, I was amazed by what other youth were doing. Many of them were from developed countries helping people in developing countries. This made me think of a way in which, us as fellow Ugandans could help our own. We, as Africans know our countries better so, it was only proper that we could help our own. I love reading and realized that most children though in school do not have access to textbooks. When i returned, i went home collected all the books in our house and told my friends about it and we organised our first donation event.

So what activities do you engage in while fundraising?

In fundraising, we sell various items like Kitenge clothes, bracelets and shoes. We believe that we should not only just ask people for money but give them value for their money. We plan to hold a car wash fundraiser. We also plan to hold a book drive whereby as a team we read stories to the young children, teach them simple Maths, English and art and in return, the entrance fee is a book for them to come for the event. We also are partnering with UNITED an NGO that helps campus students to be able to take part in charity works. We also got a donation from MK publishers of books worth one million Uganda shillings. We want to work with the local companies to create an impact in our society.

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At your age, most youth are more concerned about personal happiness and caring less. What makes you different?

I love challenges and going an extra mile.My first international voluntary experience in Ethiopia, opened my eyes to what makes us happy. The children i taught were HIV orphans and they were the happiest people i had ever met. this inspires me to create happiness in the lives of others.

You are a Law student at University of Dar El Salaam and your project is in Uganda, how do you balance the two?

I have a team that helps a lot. I acknowledge the great work of Ameso Angela, who is the co-founder and is running the organisation as i am not around. I thank my family, my mother Joyce Ebal, who is our patron and is helping give advice. I also acknowledge the work of Chris Agira, Kironde Hilda,Nakanjako Margaret, Brenda Ajok ,Opio David and Brian Ebal, who believed in my idea when most did not.

Is your family supportive of what you do outside law school?

Yes, my family is very supportive,they believe that education entails the whole package. it involves doing well in and outside school.

Your project deals with children which the society often neglects, tell us one particular story that touched you?

The story that touched me was in Aliwang Primary school, where we asked the children what they want to become and many of them wanted to be presidents of Uganda so that they can change the country. This made me realize that we have all the potential in the world to make Uganda a better country.

Considering the fact that your project is still relatively young, what have you achieved so far?

We started in August 2014. We have donated books to five schools across the country, three in central and two in Northern Uganda. We are officially a fully registered NGO and have so far donated over five hundred (500) textbooks, two hundred (200) newspapers and over a thousand (1000) stationery items like for example one thousand (1000) mathematical sets, twelve (12) dozens of chalk, two hundred (200) pencils and two hundred (200) pens together with rubbers.

Wow that is awesome! What has been your best experience so far ever since you started the project?

The donation in Aliwang primary school was the best experience ever because I saw students who literally had no shoes, walk about two miles to school barefooted, study in over crowded classrooms and still manage to be so happy and have big aspirations of being presidents of Uganda.

Any worst moments?

The application process to become a registered NGO, when we were told we had to repeat the process because we had missed a crucial signature. me and Angela were so tired that we wanted to give up, but Ronald Ssekandi, who runs Writers for Development gave us hope to not give up. I am forever grateful.

What challenges do you face while doing activities related to your project?

Getting media coverage is so hard and yet it is crucial to be able to showcase impact and raise awareness.

We know challenges are trying moments. When such challenges come up, do you feel like you want to quit and regret having started your project?

Haha, yes, that has happened a lot, but now am getting used to the challenges, if you have a vision, these are just stepping stones and the makings of a great story.

Do you plan to continue with Kitabu-Buk Project when you are done with school?

Yes, i want to continue with it.The first step of making Kitabu a registered as NGO has already been covered. Now, we trying to get it to donate to all regions in Uganda so it is known nationwide.I also hope to expand it to cover the East African region.

You and your team go to schools in Lira, Kampala suburbs and mostly upcountry. Do you follow up these activities after a successful campaign?

Yes, we do,we get in touch with the head teachers of the school and yearly, we want to go and conduct interviews on the impact of the books donated or the materials given towards the children’s lives.

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Any reward or accolades ever since you begun?

Inspiring confidence in young children’s lives. That is the best reward i can get as a person who is seeking to instill confidence in someone who almost gives up school and society seems not to be paying attention.

If someone wants to contribute to your project, where and how do they contribute?

Oh yes. They can drop old and new textbooks or materials at our offices located at Apple Kid’s Nursery school P.O.Box 6215, Bukoto, Plot 261 on the Bukoto Northern By-pass road next to Kampala International School of Uganda. By telephone, they can reach out to us through the numbers 0783109264/ 0773842222/ 070464757. Our  Mobile money account is 0783109264, Facebook The Kitabu-Buk Project and on our Website- www.thekitabubukproject2014.wordpress.com

Which people do you admire? And Why?

I admire my mother and father because through education they have come from humble backgrounds to become successful. I also admire Koffi Annan, because i believe he has made a great impact on the lives of others during his time as United Nations Secretary General. I also admire Malala fellow Global Youth Ambassador and Chernor Bah,for their efforts to get very child in school.

If you were given an opportunity to change Uganda, what would be that one thing you would change in Uganda?

I would make a proper survey of how people want to be taught in class and change the education system,to suit our societies’ needs because i believe so many people have talents that are not being exploited by our current system. I also am looking for a away to inspire confidence among the youth because that is something that is affecting youth.

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who inspired confidence among the youth to be better than themselves.

What advice could you give to youth of Uganda today?

We are a blessed group of people who should spend our knowledge finding solutions to our everyday problems.

Any last words?

Thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity, to share my experience. Am deeply honoured and may God guide you in everything that you do.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Suubi Susan

    April 30, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Ebal Brownie & Ameso Angella
    may the Almighty Lord bless the work you do.
    Its awesome

  2. emmanuel obong

    April 30, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    i appreciate all the effort you are putting to make this world a better place for those young girls and boys may the Lord reward you aboundantly.

  3. Anonymous

    May 1, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I am proud of you Brownie, the extra step put of the ordinary you took is amazing. Keep up the good work

  4. Akol Adrian Neville

    May 1, 2015 at 6:33 am

    I am proud of you Brownie, the extra step out of the ordinary is amazing. Children will always remain the future that needs to be modeled now. Keep up the good work my dear.

  5. Seremba Claire

    May 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Totally a step in right direction and truly inspiring!!

  6. mwesigye siryebo

    May 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you for the great work you do, am also looking forward to do something that may help the children.

  7. Anonymous

    May 5, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Keep it up Brownie….i love the courage in u. U inspires me alot.

  8. Anonymous

    May 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    MAY GOD SEE YOU THROUGH ALL
    ALONG

  9. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I can work with you. Thanks for being passionate about helping kids

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Profiles

Meet DJ Rachael East Africa’s first female DJ

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Daniel Ecwalu-25

Photo Credit: Daniel Ecwalu-25

Dj Rachael is a trail blazer in her field, she is the first East African female Dj, who started out at a tender age and grew into one of the best DJs on the African continent; also a Rapper, Producer & business guru, she runs an Audio Production Studio “Scraych Rekordz” and a Mobile Events Company called “Raybon”. Her big heart, charm, dedication  has seen her sail through the Dj’ying  profession for  close to 20 yrs.

Right now she is into  music production more than ever  because she  thinks it’s becoming a basic in the life of a Dj. “It’s what makes superstar Djs. I’m glad I was welcomed into the Santuri family which has taught me a lot more than I knew before. ” she says

How did you start?

It was just a fun thing as a kid picking up a Mic and doing some covers as an MC and Rapper in the early days but then I joined Dj-ing out of curiosity because the Djs where I Mced picked interest in me  gave me the necessary basics to head start DJing. This profession picked me up and we’ve been cuddling ever since. It is something you just stay in love with. I didn’t go to any school for Djing, I picked up all that I learned from the Djs I started out with at Club Pulsations and then made it an issue to be better than them. I used to tease them about me having a crazier crowd than they did after I became good at it.

Are you genre sensitive? Which is it and why?

I do not center on a particular genre because my clients are much diversified. In the beginning I loved hip-hop and gangsta music. Now I love more Dance, EDM, Afro house, deep house, Alternative, Rock and Hip hop still. It goes with the territory and to me these genres move floors, though it helps that it’s my kind of music.

What is the Dj-ying landscape like for a woman in Uganda?

I softened the landscape and landing for female Djs in Uganda and East Africa. But then again I didn’t have as much a hard time as I expected though they treated me like an amateur rider. It was topsy-turvy at times where some people would cover me with blankets, others with helmets and yet others with spiky eyes! I guess it still is like that in some parts of the country though it’s no big deal in Kampala.

Any occupational hazards?

Djs especially female ones get short changed by some employers, others get rough experiences through coarse sexual advances from male employers. Its rough terrain if you don’t own a car and have to move in the late hours of the night with your equipment; you could get into all sorts of danger like robberies or worse.

Were you supported by family (parents) when you started?   

Actually I didn’t tell anybody I was going out to DJ. My mum heard about it, was probably flabbergasted and one time she surprised me with a cameo at the Club. I almost broke the record I was playing. She made a lot of fuss to the owners of the club because I was so young. They later resolved it, she got herself some drinks and later even danced while I played. You should have seen the grin on my face!

Do they support you now?

Now everybody loves Dj Rachael, okay not everybody. Most of my family does. Though my mum didn’t live on to see me become the Dj that I am today because she passed on in 1999 barely a few years after I begun. Bless her soul. Then there is an uncle who still insists I should have pursued my pilot project because that’s what I wanted to be as a child! A PILOT! I was actually good at math and sciences.

How long do you plan to Dj?

I told my family I would go on till I’m 75yrs old and they laughed. But it is very possible in this industry. There was an old lady Dj in the USA who was 94 years old and another from Poland who is 77yrs. I’m still a baby!

What are the future prospects for Ugandan women on the world market like?

I think the market is very broad-based right now and the future looks pretty good though the competition will get even tighter out there in the world. There’s so much high tech going on and if you don’t follow you can get left behind in a flash, so you need to be very tech savvy. Old school works pretty fine but if you want to be a household name you got to keep up and get on top, literally. And yes a solo concert has been on my mind like forever now and I know its getting pretty close. Since I’m making 20yrs in the business I think there is my catch. The fans should watch this space and wish me luck on this huge milestone coming up.

Do you think a solo concert would work for you?

I think it would work out very well and people will realize a DJ is big business these days. The Dj industry has grown in leaps and bounds and Djs can now hold huge concerts all on their own.

Are Djs appreciated in Uganda? Why?

The appreciation is only visible in a few sectors, from a few employers. The fans are really all the way behind Djs because they see what they offer. Some employers or event organisers don’t give the Djs enough appreciation. They see what you do and reap the benefits from your talent but they don’t show it in the way they pay. Some Djs themselves don’t rate themselves highly and thus they create a devaluation of DJS.

What are your thoughts at the realization that Djs can headline at festivals now?

It is way overdue. It makes me feel real proud and ecstatic to see this new development and especially seeing that some international superstar DJS are making more money than musicians. Who ever saw that coming?! I Hope it also starts happening in Africa.

Would you help someone (a girl) start Dj-ing? Word of advice to interested girls.

Yes of course, I would love to help girls get into Djing. BUT words of caution: It’s not a matter of looking pretty you got to work hard to perfect your art. AND be who you want to be don’t follow what others are doing, identify with your inner self.

How much do you earn?

I can not put a real figure to the earnings though I can say it’s worth it if you are dedicated to what you do and if you get the right gigs. At the same time in Uganda you need a supplementary salary or business because of some reasons mentioned above.

Where have you played?

Club Silk for 7yrs or more. Club Pulsations, Club Rogue, Club Volts, Steak Out, Sombreros(part time), Cayenne, Big Mikes, OS Club, Florida 2000(guest Nairobi), Stone Club (Mwanza), Via Via (Arusha), Happy People (Kigali), Heineken Capital Fm Parties, Bambucha Launch party, Irish Ball, Italian Day, USA Independence Day ball, Mama Akina Wa Africa Festival, Bayimba Festivals, Sondeka Festivals, Club Silk Street Jams, Wayne Wonder & Demarco concert and so many more corporate and private events and parties.

I was the only Dj chosen by BBC in East Africa to pick the best nightclubs in Africa 2015. I won the Alliance Francaise World Music Day Dj Battle in 2013. We are going to change the face of East African music with the Santuri Safari programming and remixing. It’s going to be a tsunami. Catch me at the Sondeka Festival September 10th 2015 and Bayimba Festival September 18th.

You can follow Dj Racheal on Twitter @DjRachael256, Instagram LilSniper04,  Facebook Dj Rachael, Soundcloud DJRachael4Raynsom

Daniel Ecwalu-24Daniel Ecwalu-27

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From Blogging to empowering girls, this Ugandan woman is changing her world

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Ida Horner

When she is not blogging, her mind is preoccupied with creating community transformation, enabling girls to understand menstrual hygiene and being able to offer people other options of life other than the exam passing skills imparted by schools is what she is doing in  Ruhanga,  South Western Uganda. Her Name is Ida Horner Bayiga.

Her Passion led  her to start the  Africa On The Blog, run the Let Them Help Themselves (TLHT)  foundation and  Ethnic Supplies these are are all peieces that fit in her dream of changing her world.

This is Uganda caught up with Ida, to share with us her passions, dreams and what she is doing to make her world a better place.

How did you start all this?

It’s that sort of realization that you can do something, I  felt that I could reach out to those that were less fortunate, so I started by exporting handcrafts and textiles made by women and all was going well until the recession hit.

A friend of mine, Ann McCarthy on knowing what I was doing invited me to have a look at something she had started in Ruhanga, so I came back to see her project, she was out of her depth, I mean it’s a remote village, no water, no medical center, no school, no means of money generation and whatnot. So, I setup a charity Let Them Help Themselves out of poverty (LTHT) and over the years, we have accomplished a lot. Now we have a school for 500 pupils, running water etc and right now, we are focusing on skills development like tailoring skills, computing, menstrual hygiene and one of the reasons I am here this time is to review this project, where do we go from here, did it actually help, is there any one particular activity that they really really want us to develop further and to see what works and what doesn’t.

So, what is Let Them Help Themselves really about?

Our core value is community regeneration, so we speak to the community to try and understand what there issues are, to try and understand why those issues have not been addressed, whose role it is to address them and where the blockages are and those are the things that prevent people from becoming economically active because, if a woman is spending most of her time of the day collecting water and making sure that that water is safe, she doesn’t have time to go and earn an income.

If a young girl is spending a week or so without going to school because of lack of menstrual hygiene, it impacts her negatively, so we try and have such conversations with the communities so we can forge a way to try and help.

We see our role as people who want to remove blockages at prevent them from becoming economically active, we also look at transformation using the skills development initiative where if a young girl learns a skill, it becomes handy even if she dropouts at age 15 or 16, wherever they land, they can easily find employment or create a job for themselves because people have to have options.

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 What else are you involved in?

We are also involved in Humanitarian causes/emergencies, here in Uganda we were involved in the Bududa Landslides and also in some slum project in Kireka where were helping women refugees at a quary to sell their handcrafts. Also during the Ebola Outbreak In Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone diaspora came to us and we helped to provide people food in the treatment centres as their families neglected them because they were suffering from Ebola.

How do the people of Ruhanga take it in, that an outsider, a stranger is trying to help them?

It’s not easy, and it hasn’t been easy since 2008. It’s about negotiating and building relationships because we are all about transformation and giving communities other options, so having those conversations and knowing the power structures in the community, has been a bonus for us, It has helped us help them. it’s actually a privilege that they allow us to help them, but if you come with an “I know best” point of view or from an imperialistic stance, then forget it. The people of Ruhanga have learnt to accept us in and we respect that.

LTHT is mainly based in Ruhanga but, do you have any plans of widening/spreading this campaign to other places?

It’s possible, I mean, Yes we can do it but honestly, it all comes down to finance, if you dont have the funds to travel around, to pay your employees, you can dream and dream and nothing happens. And also we don’t get any funding from the UK government or the Ugandan government so we rely on individual donations, that’s how we have and are still doing it But also there is still a lot of work to do in Ruhanga, were trying to build a model and a blue print that someone can look at and take away and also replicate because it’s basically developed organically. So for now, widening and spreading is just in the pipe line.

What is ethnic supplies?

Ethnic supplies is about helping people who make handcrafts and textiles to access the market in Europe, before the recession, it was turning a small profit but after the recession it isn’t easy anymore, people priotise where and on what they are spending their money on.

How does ethnic supplies work, I mean If I wanted in, how would I go about it?

The basic principle is that we don’t work with any one group that we haven’t met, so part of my role is to travel and meet these groups and the idea behind that is to check out their employment practices in every sense of the word. So for you/your group to join, we have to have met the group and have established that you have transparent and fair employment practices.

Looks like you have been beaten to the better part of fairness, what are those things that you look at to measure or ascertain good/acceptable employment practices?

I have a very high sense of ‘fairness’, I hate seeing someone being unfair to someone else, be it a person or a brand, I don’t like people being undercut and cheated & people not getting their wage because let’s face it, most people don’t know their rights and employers use that to terminate their contracts unjustly and to manipulate them so, unethical employment practices are exactly what I am against.

What are some of those things that have enabled you to get where you are?

Social capital! Social capital allows you to get a long way which gives you privilege, the social capital has helped me to get on and my ability to help other communities isn’t because I am rich but because I have a lot of social capital. Social capital is important in all terms and ways.

As curator of Africa On The Blog, what exactly do you do?

That’s nearly a full time job in itself, I source contributors to the platform, chasing them for their articles, promoting the website, making sure that the contributors are looked after, I have to ensure that the quality of work is good and to bring new people on board.

Tell, us more about Africa On The Blog?

Africa On The Blog was started 5 years ago, It was an idea that I had and other people in the diaspora wanted. I actually thought it would only engage the women in the diaspora to talk about their Countries, experiences, and stories but the thing took a life of it’s own. *laughs*, So We ended up getting many people who wanted to be contributors from allover Africa including Men.

some of the contributors we had were lecturers at universities who started sending their students to us as a resource, it’s pretty much started a life of it’s own.

Do you have a any Ugandan contributors?

Currently, we have none but over the years, I have heard 4, first was a pharmacist, then David Mpanga who is a solicitor here and 2 others but currently, I don’t have any Ugandan contributors.

Do you think colourism is real in Uganda, because I actually think it’s on a very low scale?

Colourism is real, it’s an issue of patriarchy, low self esteem, politics and colonialism because now women believe that to get a good job they have to look like Maggie Kigozi. Just stop it, don’t do that to yourself these skin lighteners have side effects that you will have to live with for years to come. Because…

Do you have any plans of organising a charity event in Uganda like the walk around Virginia Water Lake?

Most people in Uganda don’t know exactly what I am doing and after being in the UK for close to 24 years, that’s where all my social capital is, but yeah, I would love to have a fundraiser here or run a Ugandan but it wouldn’t be easy. We have a place at next year’s London Marathon and I was almost tempted to give it to a Uganda to fundraise for us, but the VISA situation would be a difficult thing, so I gave it up.

So how can young people  volunteer with LTHT?

Currently, you/that person must be willing to travel to Ruhanga because that’s where we are currently based and some of the things we are looking at isn’t money. If you could get 10-15 comrades who owned laptops and you went to Ruhanga to help the people there to get the computers, you’ve shared your skills and that’s very important, even if it’s just for a weekend. That would be much better than money, people like me value time, if you give it your time, then it’s worth it and we would be grateful.

As a writer I assume you are reading. What book are you currently reading?

It’s a feminist book but its a good one, let me show you…

It’s Beyond the pale and I would prefer the pages but that would mean I have to move around with a book and I mean, look at my handbag, very small a book can’t fit.

Any last words to all the ladies out there and every body?

To the ladies, go do it yourself, that’s advice I got from my dad, make sure that you’re financially independent as a woman and don’t do anything to yourself like bleaching, it will live with you for the rest of your life.

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Girls after receiving free re-usable sanitary pads made by participants at the skills development initiative.

Ps. We do believe that many Ugandans out there are doing awesome things and we would like to be a part of you if you could share your story like Mrs. Ida Horner did. Do you have a story?, you can email us at thisis256@gmail.com

 

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Writing Shouldn’t be your sidekick- Uganda’s Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire

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Bwesigye-bwa-Mwesigire

A master of his art, a writer and a creative in all forms of mental creativity that refers to himself as just a guy who promotes African Literature in all spheres, and Co-founder of an organization that fronts African Literature, promotes the arts through writivism.

 So who is Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire?

This is always a hard question to answer.I will just say that I am one of three co-founders of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, a non profit that promotes the arts, especially African literature, through Writivism.

When did it occur to you that you are a writer?

I am hesitant to identify myself as a writer. A writer of academic and journalistic work, yes, a creative writer, no. Writers are human beings who have novels, plays and collections of poetry published. I have none of those. I am only a promoter of African Literature who sometimes writes academic essays and journalistic reviews and interviews writers.

Where does your inspiration lie?

Problems that beg for solutions, which means all problems are inspiring. They give one a reason to work.

They say that if you want to hide something from and African hide it in a book. Do you think this is still the case?

It has never been the case. I want to look at a book as an image for a story. Stories are not all written. There are oral stories. There are written stories. And there are stories that are both written and oral. Africans, Ugandans, human beings have always consumed literature, stories in whatever form, written or oral.

 Writivism what does it even mean? Tell us more about this initiative.

Writivism is about the promotion of African Literature produced and consumed on the continent. We hold workshops in various cities on the continent, connect emerging writers to established ones to be mentored, run an annual short story prize, publish annual anthologies, run a schools programme and an annual literary festival in Kampala.

There is a lot of information being written. How shall we make Ugandans read all this information with all the things competing for their attention?

We need to stop thinking of reading as the only way to consume information. Film is important. Music is as well. Oral literature is as important as written literature.

 What is your message to Ugandan writers?

They should be pro-active. There are many opportunities, they should grab them. They should work hard too. Take writing as seriously as lawyering, doctoring, engineering and other professions and vocations are treated. Then it will pay. If taken as a part-time, side-kick, it won’t work. Imagine if being a lawyer, doctor, engineer etc. was considered as a side thing, it would not pay as much. Our work, us who promote writing and writers will be easier when we have excellent work being produced, to promote.

 

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