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The Gallery

On this page we showcase collections of videos, recordings, word art, photographs, and drawings submitted to this project by contributors from many parts of world. They use any medium and means accessible to them, mostly smartphones, to communicate their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contributions are all from asylum seekers and refugees from many parts of the world.

Videos
photography
Cooking at home

Cooking at home

The sky has no limit

The sky has no limit

Tell me where you seek refuge I tell you what privileges you have

Tell me where you seek refuge I tell you what privileges you have

Ramadan Routine during the pandemic

Ramadan Routine during the pandemic

New skills and Keeping fit during the pandemic

New skills and Keeping fit during the pandemic

Ramadan – Eritrean Community Breaking Fast in Melbourne, Australia

Ramadan – Eritrean Community Breaking Fast in Melbourne, Australia

The lovely taste of Syrian desserts overcome the bitterness of Covid-19 Pandemic

The lovely taste of Syrian desserts overcome the bitterness of Covid-19 Pandemic

What is a Home for Rohingya Refugees?

What is a Home for Rohingya Refugees?

Mother’s Day Hamper

Mother’s Day Hamper

Mumbles during lockdown

Mumbles during lockdown

Cleaning the streets of my second homeland

Cleaning the streets of my second homeland

Faith as a refuge during lockdown

Faith as a refuge during lockdown

My own business

My own business

Green Lockdown

Green Lockdown

Art Competition among the participant of Resettlement programs

Art Competition among the participant of Resettlement programs

Medicines and Self-medication

Medicines and Self-medication

The Power of Gift Exchange: flowers, biscuits and food under lock down

The Power of Gift Exchange: flowers, biscuits and food under lock down

Love sharing food, Love friends

Love sharing food, Love friends

Photos of nature during lockdown

Photos of nature during lockdown

Hand gloves used for catching crabs

Hand gloves used for catching crabs

Face masks everywhere

Face masks everywhere

Window of my room

Window of my room

Images of lockdown from Holland

Images of lockdown from Holland

Corona gets everywhere!

Corona gets everywhere!

Not being at school

Not being at school

Migrant solidarity in The Hague

Migrant solidarity in The Hague

Uncertainty

Uncertainty

Talking about hair falling out

Talking about hair falling out

A Place of stillness and the divinity within you

A Place of stillness and the divinity within you

Family metaphors

Family metaphors

Birthday party during lockdown

Birthday party during lockdown

Baking during lockdown

Baking during lockdown

Doing business during lockdown

Doing business during lockdown

My child is a Covid Warrior

My child is a Covid Warrior

Graffiti art in Birmingham

Graffiti art in Birmingham

Keys: A Symbol Of Trust

Keys: A Symbol Of Trust

Protests at Penally camp in Pembrokshire

Protests at Penally camp in Pembrokshire

Swansea’s Vibrant Solidarity Networks

Swansea’s Vibrant Solidarity Networks

The Drama of the Migrants’ Journey Minute by Minute

The Drama of the Migrants’ Journey Minute by Minute

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Swansea as a City of Sanctuary

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Swansea as a City of Sanctuary

Lazy cat

Lazy cat

“Thank God it’s just a nightmare”

“Thank God it’s just a nightmare”

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Hop Food Bank, Swansea

Hop Food Bank, Swansea

Corona collage

Corona collage

New Refugee Camp at Lesvos

New Refugee Camp at Lesvos

Vandalising the homes of those who support refugees on Lesvos

Vandalising the homes of those who support refugees on Lesvos

Thank you NHS and care workers

Thank you NHS and care workers

Ramadan Under Lockdown – Children’s home made mosques

Ramadan Under Lockdown – Children’s home made mosques

World Beyond Fence

World Beyond Fence

Lockdown workspaces at home

Lockdown workspaces at home

Support the NHS (a rainbow dress for Cindy)

Support the NHS (a rainbow dress for Cindy)

Ramadan in the time of Covid-19

Ramadan in the time of Covid-19

Freedom Air

Freedom Air

Toilet paper graffiti

Toilet paper graffiti

Wordart

Poems for Kuchingoro

Poems By Fegor Lois Onoworemu

Bio:
Fegor is a volunteer teacher at Sharing Prosperity Primary School, New Kuchingoro IDP Camp. She is a passionate teacher and counsellor who is dedicated to cultivating supportive, stimulating, and inclusive environments that allow students to reach their fullest potential. Fegor has been able to provide exemplary guidance and ensure no student is left behind. She has over seven years of teaching and counselling experience, and the ability to contribute positively to the growth of any organization, as well as the willingness to learn. Her goal is to care for others and bring out the best in them.

Fergo wrote this poem both for herself and also for the children she works with in the camp.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Take me back

Funmi wrote this to express her sense of loss and disconnection under lockdown. She was a headteacher in a Nigerian school before she came to the UK and has worked hard since she arrived, becoming active and deeply involved in lots of different community groups.

She is currently studying for a Law degree at University of Wales, Trinity Saint David on a Sanctuary bursary. Under lockdown the meetings and connections are now online and despite Zoom she is feeling isolated again.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Poem of the day from Dino

Poem of the Day from Dino (not real name) Algerian undocumented man

Original in French 

Translated by Helen Hintjens

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Naked Truth

This is an extract from Vicky’s diary. She is an undocumented migrant currently living in the Netherlands.

Diary entry 30 May 2020

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Be thankful to be alive

This is an extract from Vicky’s diary. She is an undocumented migrant currently living in the Netherlands.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Poem by Dino

The poem was written in French and translated into English. It was written in the second Dutch lockdown, as curfew was introduced, January 2021. Dino has been undocumented in the Netherlands for decades. He has given up all hope of regularisation.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

I will come back

Selina is a 75-year-old refugee. She has had spent over 18 years of her life in UK. She recently won the battle to stay legally in this country. She was homeless for a long time and survived because of the support she received from local charities in Swansea.

Her mental and physical health deteriorated dramatically during this battle.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Let me live today

‘I felt a bit lost and depressed and then realised that I’m worth it!’

This young person is a failed asylum seeker who has been waiting for 8 years with her mum to gain her status in UK. She completely missed on education, work experience and ultimately her friends. She grew up in this country, but she was never able to do what other kids at her age are doing. She is deeply stressed but she reminds herself how worthy she is. She tries to distract herself with many other skills however she often feels drained.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

They let us go and we hugged each other tighter

This oil pastel picture was created by Afghani refugee and feminist Sweeta Durrani for International Women’s Day 2021. She entitled it ‘They let us go and we hugged each other tighter’ to demonstrate the love, and power of women’s networks of support both in Afghanistan and the UK – and also the world..

“This art marks International Women’s Day 2021 #IWD2021. We #ChooseToChallenge the hostile environment created by the UK Government.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

“When the government imposed a Lockdown, I started sending a message to all my employers, requesting them that they pay me even half of my wages per hour if they decide not to allow me to come their house to work. I was surprised that only three of my employers had responded differently. Sad to say, the rest didn’t respond, though, they saw my message.”

1/3

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

2/3

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

3/3

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

I’m broke, Mother

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

“My daughter, who worked as a cashier in a fast food restaurant, lost her first job after a few months due to Covid 19. Since then she spent her own savings to buy personal needs she wanted. So she decided to do a creative way to earn some money during the pandemic by holding an on-line raffle draw. The prize was her own Michael Kors bag that I gave her as gift for her graduation last year. When I learned it, I called and asked her why. She said, I am broke, mother, and I need to survive!”

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Gold and Wood

This was sent by Dino, an undocumented man from Algeria, in The Netherlands for most of 25 years by 2020. Dino is not his real name.

Motto of the day
Some people look like gold, where others, in your eyes, are only worth a piece of wood. But there comes a time when you are close to drowning in the ocean of the trials of life, and you realise that piece of wood, which you instinctively cling to, is more useful and more precious than all the gold, which would only sink you deeper.
Greetings
Dino (not real name)

Subject: la devise du jour (the motto of the day)

certaines personnes te paraissent comme de l’or , tandis que d’autres ne valent , à tes yeux pas plus qu’ un morceau de bois .mais il arrive un moment ou , près de te noyer dans l’ocean des épreuves de la vie , tu t’aperçois que le moreau de bois , auquel tu t’accroches instinctivement , et plus utile et plus précieux que tout l’or qui ne serverait qu’à te couler d’avantage

salutations Dino

11.11.2020

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Bitter coffee and burnt bread

This is a story written under lockdown by an Afghan refugee about losing a father. It reflects her own sense of dislocation and loss, separated from her family and isolated in her new country.

On a cold, snowy, foggy winter morning a little girl, near a wood-burning stove, which had been set on fire like a red boar, was warming her little hands.
And she enjoys the pleasant burning of the wood like her mother’s embrace, it made her feel safe and secure.
The rustling sound of papers that her father was eagerly looking for could be heard from behind. The girl felt that her father was late, he had to leave the house sooner.

Although she did not know what he was looking for, she wanted to help and create a miracle with her small hands. How great it would be if she could find the lost paper. She wanted her father to feel joy and give him a gift, albeit a small one.

As she approached him, the papers scattered onto the ground. Her father raised his head and his military hat fell on the girl’s shoulders and then fell to the ground. She panicked, fear gripped her, stopped her from moving. She was stuck for a moment. Her father bent down and found the paper he was looking for.
Without saying a word, the father took the hat and put it on his head.

The mother’s voice shook the girl’s stunned body again, saying:
“Go with your father, to buy bread from the bakery.”
The father put a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and with the smoke coming out of it opened and closed his eyes halfway in pleasure.
The girl accompanied her father to the bakery.
The father wrapped warm, fresh bread between the newsprint and handed it to the girl. As soon as he wanted to leave, he placed his heavy hands on the girl’s small, childish shoulders and gave her a warm kiss on the forehead, playful said, “pader-jaan, go home soon it’s getting cold”
The girl laughed lightly and went on her way.
The girl went to turn the door handle and involuntarily turned her head and eyes to follow her father. He turned to the right side of the alley and disappeared from sight.

Still, years later, the black boots of her father are still lying in the snow. She can still hear the sound of the crunching of snowflakes underneath his heavy, steady footsteps.
The father has been gone for years.
But the smell of bread, the burnt smell of the sides and corners of the bread, the traces of cigarette smoke left in the air behind the broad and masculine shoulders of her father. She feels it all.
The little girl drinks bitter coffee to remind her of the bitter smell of her father’s cigarettes, the bitter smell of burnt bread, the intersection of her frightened eyes and her father’s warm kiss in the scorching cold of winter.

Sweeta Durrani

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Poem on Life

In this poem a highly qualified refugee from Pakistan writes of her isolation and loneliness under lockdown lamenting that she is unable to develop her potential.


Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Facing the elements in a cold covid climate is facing change

by Carlos Ibarra-Rivadeneira

Another year and still in COVID lockdown. Riding my bike is, for me, the best option for staying active. But cycling during winter in Wales teaches me many different lessons, especially when one cycles and sees the same locations day after day. As the weather changes so do we. One day warm and rainy and next day bitterly cold and sharply chilling. Why go out in the bitter cold and feel discomfort? What have we to gain? Everything, I say. Determination to face the elements, to bear whatever weather comes, to brave life’s ironies.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Contrast

During the dreary, cold grey winter months, when nature brings us rare and beautiful moments, like an impressive, stunning, unexpected sunset, the contrast offers us the chance of a moment to reflect on and appreciate what we already have as well as what we wish for.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Are you scared?

A different perspective on wearing face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in public places or at work. Refugees are forced to leave their homeland due to threats to their lives. Therefore, they are always anxious. This refugee, who is also a key worker, feels good about wearing a mask. It’s not just a protection from the virus but from other possible threats – even threatening looks or aggression because of the colour of your skin. When the world is in lockdown, it’s the safest moment to go out for refugees and asylum seekers.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

It’s so rare that refugees have a real and present platform to express themselves fully and without constraint. This project is not just about asylum seekers or refugees it’s an archive that is being co-created with them and for them. It’s a living archive that will always remain and remind future generations of this very strange moment in time and it will show them how people suffered but also how they worked together to gather and collect these stories of their lives – it’s a living museum.

Sophie De Marco 🌈

Asylum Seeker & Refugee Advice Worker, Asylum Rights Programme

Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team Wales (EYST Wales)

Regarding my hopes and dreams, my dearest wish is for the whole world to enjoy peace and safety, ending all wars, and for every child in the world to have the right to life. And my dearest wish for our beloved Syria is that after so much devastation and destruction of our homes, our lives, our history and  our culture, that we will be able to leave a Syrian footprint in this world to show the true extent of our culture and our love for the world. And finally, I wish to integrate Arabic and European Culture in my next artworks and I thank this project for supporting me as an artist.

Hassan Al Tabbaa, Graphic Designer, Painter, Sculptor

So many families have had to choose between phone and food during lockdown. Without access to the internet children miss out on schooling, doctor’s and solicitors cannot be contacted, families cannot stay in touch and social isolation has a devastating impact on mental health. This is digital poverty.

Thanuja Hettiarachchi and Kelly Wearing, Asylum Rights Support Workers

Moria Camp, Lesvos, Greece

Photos by journalist Katy Fallon, who reported on the destruction of Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos in September. The graffiti ‘Human Rights Graveyard. Welcome to Europe’ sums up the grim reality: tens of thousands condemned to misery in prison-like conditions, just because they want a safe and better life.

Diary reflection on Time

Vicky’s hand-written diary entry dated 21.06.2020 starts by asking us as readers to: think about what you really care about. She ends with:

Now is the time and chance

It’s never too late

Don’t forget to always visit yourself.

Helen commented: The effect is pretty poetic. Something between prose and a poem, perhaps.

Thank you NHS and frontline workers

“My daughter who is staying at home and is unable to go to school due to Covid-19 has seen this poem somewhere online and thought she would write it down and colour it. She has been inspired by the hard work of all frontline workers and told me that she wants to be a nurse when she grows up so she could look after people”.

Eid celebrations in Corona times

The 2020 festival of Eid-Ul-Adha (30 July- 3 August) was scuppered due to last minute government lockdown policy in parts of Northern England – home to many of the largest Muslim populations. The announcement was made just two hours before Eid celebrations. This meant that for many Muslims Eid celebrations were cancelled, leading to much disappointment. So why the government left it so late unclear – like many of their policies.

World view challenged

Sergio is a black American citizen but born and raised in Venezuela. He migrated looking for a better future for his family. He is a mental health professional and reflects about COVID and lockdown impact in his clients specially BAME communities.

Thursday Clapping found us new friends

“It was a good experience for me. Before the pandemic I didn’t have any idea about my neighbours. Now we are clapping NHS each Thursday, and while clapping I met with my neighbours. Each week they prepare something for my children. One week squash and haribo. One week they gave colouring books and pencils.”

Out Out

A satirical combination; material of a well- known comedian and UK government policy.
UK government communication has been the subject of fierce attack from many corners. In particular, the mixed messaging which has been very confusing for British citizens who by and large have abided strictly by the rules. However, as the lockdown has eased, we can see the effects of this mixed messaging in the behaviour of the public where some ignore while others stick by the rules. Further confusion has arisen as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in their lockdown policies. As fears of a second wave rise, the government need to communicate more clearly.

Nation / Imagination

Pandemic graffiti seen in South Wales during COVID-19.
This project shows how our imagination has been unleashed during lockdown. Living with the anxiety of uncertainty and more time on our hands has forced us to think about our lives – past, present and future. But it also makes us think about how we live together and how this virus transcends national borders and how we need global solutions more than ever. Narrow xenophobic nationalism helps no one.

This is not Europe: an apology

On the external borders of Europe, tens of thousands of refugees’ lives are suspended in limbo while they await their asylum claims to be processed. Greece, Italy and Spain have had to bear the brunt of pitiful European migration policies while European Member states, with few exceptions, turn a blind eye to their problems. The European Union was set up to espouse certain values. The Europe that is keeping refugees caged like animals in camps like Moria is not the Europe envisaged when the EU was set up.
Recordings

Flute Music

These two audio files were shared by Alan, a Kurdish asylum seeker from Turkey who is currently living in the Netherlands.

“A friend came by because the lockdown caused him quite a lot of boredom. He remembered my interest in flutes and that I never possessed one. I wasn’t even able to play a single tune back then. But he brought his old recorder flute along and gave it to me for motivation.

I started to play and lo and behold I picked it up in a question of days. The first recording was after a week. The second one after a month.

Greed Kills

Richard Nomba Tshimanga is a volunteer with the Congolese Development Project and the Centre for African Entrepreneurship, assisting with their respective food support projects during the pandemic. Here, he tells a tale in Congolese French about the pitfalls of greed. It’s a tale which is told all over Africa and a timely reminder about how we must not let our greed infect us in Covid Times. Translated on the next slide in English.

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Greed Kills

Once upon a time there was a very rich man, the richest man in his village. He was also the most miserly man. He was nicknamed M’bibizo, meaning “the miser”. M’bibizo was uniquely stingy. With no wife nor employees, he did everything himself – even all the housework himself. He was proud of spending nothing. One day, M’bibizo fell into a well. He cried out for help and his nearest neighbour came running and held out his and, exclaiming:

“M’bibizo, give me your hand so I can get you out of the well.”

But M’bibizo hated giving anything! He hesitated to give his hand.
That hesitation was fatal. Probably he would have survived if only he had given his neighbour his hand. The wise men of the village warned that it was indeed greed that killed rich M’bibizo.

The Man on the TV

This wonderful story from renowned queer seanchaí (Irish oral storyteller) and academic Joseph de-Lappe is called The Man on the TV. It interweaves memories of growing up queer in rural Ireland, of living through other epidemics, in particular HIV/AIDS in 1980s, and how Covid triggers his father’s memories of living through polio in 1950s. He touchingly recalls his parents’ home where TV was centre stage and chat shows wired his mother to the wider world. Leaving his home and Ireland and migrating to the UK, Joe’s story makes a deft and intricate play on the changing faces of the man on the TV seen from the point of view of his mother – from his childhood to today where his mother sees his face via a webcam he installed to reconnect himself daily to home life during Covid and especially his mother whose dementia has worsened recently.

Mi Jardin - My Garden

Ruth is a Venezuelan migrant who fled from her country to seek asylum in the UK with her immediate family, leaving many behind. She worked as a teacher for 24 years and applied her creativity in teaching preschool kids. During the pandemic lockdown she started gardening, growing flowers and vegetables for first time in UK. In this audio she relates her experience.

Giving birth in lockdown

Rita tells her story of giving birth in lockdown: “After trying several years finally we were welcoming our second child in June 2020. We had many challenges already because of our residence permit and then COVID-lockdown started. … When my midwife shared with me the news that I might have to go alone to the hospital for the delivery because of Covid, that made me so stressed and I was frightened because of the situation … but in the end, my partner was able to attend to witness the birth and that was wonderful”.

Syrian family sharing experiences of Covid-19 Test

A Syrian woman who currently resides in England shares her thoughts on Cov-19 and what it means to her and her family.


Facing quarantine alone in Colombia

Yesenia shares her testimonial about living during the pandemic in Colombia with her child. A touching story and expression of emotions.

Can’t Plan

A staff member of Public Health Wales, originally from Africa talks about her own experience in work and private life during the lockdown.

Public Health Wales and Black Lives Matters

A staff member of Public Health Wales, originally from Africa talks about her own experience in work and private life during the lockdown.

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drawings & paintings

Gardening with Watercolours: the therapeutic value of being creative

Ruth is a mother, wife and a refugee. During lockdown she become unemployed and she felt a deep despair and sadness. She was feeling very isolated not being able to have her “normal” life activities.

Gardening with Watercolours: the therapeutic value of being creative

“She got involved in art classes and discovered the artist inside herself. She explained that her artwork allowed her to explore different ways of getting in touch with others and reducing her anguish. She said “I may not be artist, but I am creative. I am gardening with watercolours”

Covid at first sight

Image courtesy of Andrea Ibarra-Abreu, Venezualan artist and student living in South Wales

How does a teenager feel forced into lock down for nearly one year? Is COVID like love at first sight? Or is Covid like a relationship that must inevitably fail? Is COVID here to stay? Should I get used to it? This year looks pretty much same as last one so no tears just more COVID.

COVID planet

Image courtesy of Andrea Ibarra-Abreu, Venezualan artist and student living in South Wales

Is our planet a COVID planet? Is Covid just a temporary state or a more permanent condition? I think the COVID scare will have permanent repercussions because, at least for the moment, it seems that the virus has taken over the world. This is a new state (?) Isn’t it? I cannot picture how the world could be the same after pandemic ends, if ever it does.

Fake News and COVID

“The internet has been flooded with lots of fake news about vaccines, medicines, conspiracy theories that left many people even more confused about this very strange virus’’.
Art by Dijwar Ibrahim Siraj

Corona Covid Crown

The dilemma between security vs. freedom is expressed by Deborah Garcia in this beautiful ink art. Deborah is a young Venezuelan artist living in Spain after all her family faced political persecution and fled from Venezuela.

Entrapment

A line drawing showing the immense stress and struggle of being locked in by a young asylum seeking mother, recently moved to a place where she knows no one, is frightened and isolated and cannot access support.

Confinement

In this moving image a young asylum seeker from Pakistan depicts her sense of confinement by sketching a song bird with its wings bound tight to its body. It is perched on the edge of a diving board.

Loving Horses

Mansoureh (Mahsah) Koohnab fled Iran due to religious persecution (she is a Christian) and has been living in Swansea for the last 10 months awaiting her asylum claim to be processed.
“During lockdown many people turned to love and lovemaking, creating romantic atmospheres in their homes with scented candles (sales of which soared). These horses are smiling and looking lovingly at one another as did many who found love again in lockdown while others could only hope and dream for it.”

The Holy Trinity

Like many people, Mahsah had many challenges during lockdown to stay safe and avid giving in to depression.
“Many people also turned to religion during lockdown whether by praying or reflecting on the kind of existential questions addressed differently in different religions. Here we see an image of the Holy Trinity emerging from the crucifix.”

Dancing with my daughter

Mahsah had to leave her 6-year old daughter behind in Iran when she fled. This leaves an intolerable sense of pain from which painting only provides temporary relief. Here we see Mahsah dancing with her daughter. Her daughter reaches out for her mother while Mahsah’s hands are reaching up to the sky searching for freedom. This is their shared tragedy.

Woman in headdress

After she was given paints by Jill Duarte at the Africa Community Centre, the pleasures of painting helped her cope. These are Maseh’s lockdown paintings in which she explores the many regions of her imagination through painting, capturing fantasies, dreams and nightmares.
“The woman’s eyes are covered, shedding blood for tears yet the face adorned with a magnificent colourful crown.”

Pink flowers block print

Neja is a gifted young artist. She is a member of the Kids Art Club (see blog) that meets on Zoom every Saturday since lockdown. Her work combines a deftness of draughtsmanship, a sensitivity to colour and a skill in manging materials well beyond her age. On this website you will see many such gifted artists and creative people whose work we celebrate.
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