SWAP (Sports With A Purpose) visit to Dulce Refugio as well as the visit to Pan de Vida and Esperanza para Ti

From May 17th to 21st, Bruno de Jesus  (yes that is Bruno’s last name) and Kevin Walter from Indiana, USA came to Dulce Refugio on a scouting mission to look into the possibility of bringing their soccer team of 8, 9 and 10 years old’s to Mexico for a soccer tournament with local soccer clubs as well as to serve in the orphanage. Bruno is from Brazil and came to the USA on a soccer scholarship. He had some contacts with the Necaxa soccer club from Aguascalientes so we visited their sports complex to talk to the managers and see what could get worked out. They had a very successful trip and Dulce Refugio hopes to host their team in August of 2014.

Having a meeting with Marce about the plans for the trip.


Each major soccer club in Mexico has its own training school from where they get some of their professional players. Aguascalientes has three of these school, Necaxa, Chivas and Cruz Azul. We visited the Chivas and Necaxa clubs to see if the kids under their training would want to play a team from the USA. It was pretty cool to see the facilities these soccer (football) clubs have set up. It only costs about $400 pesos a month to train in their schools with professional coaches.

The Chivas club….

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The Necaxa club….a little bit nicer then the Chivas club since it is their home State! They start training kids at 2 and 3 years of age! We didn’t meet any of the professional players since they were on holidays.



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This pass weekend, Ana and I (Jeremy) went to visit the Pan de Vida orphanage. The big news from there is that the building of the new boys’ dorm has begun. The cost of this project will be mostly covered by the Sika lubricant company from Switzerland. The first phase of the project will hopefully be completed by the end of the 2013, which will include a dormitory and kitchen/dinning room. Currently the machines are leveling and compacting the foundation for the buildings.

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Here are some more pictures of the grand stands built by Sika….

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We visited the Esperanza para Ti orphanage as well. Our three boys loved all the animals, especially Samuel who for him everything was so new.

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The last team helped with finishing the front entrance to the main building. It was sure nice to see the windows installed so less dust and flies can get into the dinning room. New railings have been installed as well as a better doorway, some new walkways, a storage shed and laundry area.


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Canadian Ambassador’s visit to the Dulce Refugio orphanage

On May 30th, the Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, Sara Hradecky, came to visit the orphanage to see the progress of the construction of the boys’ dormitory. It was a short visit but very impacting. The children sang to the Ambassador as the event began. Marce thanked her and Canada for all their help, as well as all the local companies who have been helping the orphanage over the years. We then gave her the grand tour of the new boys’ dorm. Hopefully the Ambassador will be able to come for the inauguration on July 13th. The Canadian Embassy in Mexico city provided $450,000 pesos of funding for the boys’ dorm through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives program, for a total of $600,000 pesos since 2009 for the three projects they have helped support. We will be submitting another project proposal in June, this time for $500,000 pesos. Pray that we will have our project accepted since it is such a huge help for Dulce Refugio! God is good! It was an orphanage affair. The children helped to clean the boys’ dorm. It has never been this clean before! Actually it was the first good cleaning it ever had! It sure was nice to have many hands helping with this. The girls now want to move to this new dormitory!! SAM_0429 SAM_0431 SAM_0433 SAM_0436 SAM_0438   The arrival of the Ambassador. It was a new experience for me, Jeremy Van Beelen, to be in an armed escort, taking the Ambassador from the Marriott hotel to the orphanage. SAM_0443 SAM_0444 SAM_0445 SAM_0454     The event was held on the top floor of the boys’ dorm in the recreation room. SAM_0456 SAM_0457 SAM_0459 SAM_0460 SAM_0461 SAM_0464   Marce personally thanked the Ambassador Sara Hradecky for the help they have given the orphanage over the years. The Governor’s wife was also present, who Marce thanked as well. The orphanage presented two gifts to the Ambassador, one was for her and one was for the organisation Fondo Canada, something for them to remember the orphanage by. SAM_0465 SAM_0466 SAM_0468 SAM_0477 SAM_0478 SAM_0481   Some refreshments were served afterwards. SAM_0483 SAM_0484 SAM_0485 SAM_0486 SAM_0487 SAM_0488 SAM_0489 SAM_0490 SAM_0494

Team Integrity update # 2

The Integrity team did an amazing job of painting one of the boys’ dorm rooms in the theme of Noah’s ark. They worked till 1 am in the morning to get it finished (if not longer!!) before they left.


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Thursday praise and worship with the team.

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The team had the opportunity to visit Guanajuato on their tourist day. Here are some shots of the city.

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The goodbye barbeque. What do you get when you mix a Chinese team with 10 cans of sticky string and A Mexican Director and 10 cans of spray foam? Lots of fun!!

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Two magnificent buildings giving testimony to God’s faithfulness and blessings!



Some random pictures….the new kitchen cabinet donated by Martinrea auto parts company, tiling on the second floor of the boys’ dorm, Perla and Samuel checking out the new chicken coup, and the new door leading into the water room. SAM_0246 SAM_0242 SAM_0129 SAM_0131 SAM_0133 SAM_0111 SAM_0112


This past Friday, Bruno de Jesus, a Brazilian now living in the USA, Kevin Walter, an American and Victor Marquez, the brother to Jorge Marquez, came on a reconnaisence trip to look into bringing a soccer team of 9, 10 and 11 year old’s to serve at Dulce Refugio through a soccer ministry call Sports with a Purpose.  It has been a productive weekend trip for them as they meet with Marcela, the directors of the Necaxa sports club and others to organize a tournament. They hope to bring a team down in August 2014.

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This past Sunday, the Equipo Brothers won their first game in the local church soccer league. They won 4 – 2. The team all wears Herbalife jerseys with the number 23.

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Have a great day!

Children of Hope Team Integrity from Calgary, Alberta visiting the Dulce Refugio children’s home

On May 2nd the team Integrity arrived from Calgary, Alberta for a 10 day trip to Dulce Refugio. This team of 18 people happen to be all Chinese Canadians! The team is busy with painting the inside and  outside of the boys’ dorm, preparing and pouring the roof of the water purification room, painting the new bakery located in the storage room adjacent to the boys’ dorm, grouting the bathroom tiles, and other odds and ends.

On Saturday May 4th,  the team had the privilege to take the children to a local water park called Mundo A. In total 67 people went to the water park for about 5 hours. The park was nice to give a 2 for 1 deal to lower the cost a little. Everyone had fun in the sun!



Since the inauguration of the boys’ dorm is fast approaching, it is good to see all the little details coming together. A team of 18 sure helps to get work done! The third floor of the boys’ dorm is all tiled. There still has to be some painting to be completed but the majority of the work is finished. The second floor is all plastered so there is only the first floor to do now. Here are some pictures of the painting projects that the team is working on…..

The Dulce Refugio bakery…..getting a new door and paint job.



The outside of the boys’ dorm getting some….a LOT of colour!!



The inside of the boys’ dorm getting painted…white and blue..

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The water room roof getting poured….all by pour muscle and bucket..it only took an hour and a half!!

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The 10 guys on the team were also busy with digging out a patio area by the girls’ dorm basement. They dug out the hole and poured the floor.

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The team shared a number of songs in the worship service on Sunday as well as played a number of instruments. After the service, the team took the children of a local park call Cedazo.



Some other random pictures….


P.S: Dulce Refugio is in the process of finalizing the visit of the Canadian Ambassador to Mexico on May 30th. We are all VERY excited to be able to show off to the Ambassador all what God has been accomplishing through the funding received for the building of the boys’ dorm. The Canadian Embassy supported this project with $450,000 pesos so we are eager to show off to her what was all accomplished with the funding received.

P.S.S: I (Jeremy Van Beelen) want to thank the team leader, Dave Ng, for bringing down a new camera. This wasn’t even asked for but as a testament to just how God provides, two weeks earlier my previous water proof camera gave up the ghost when it was discovered it wasn’t waterproof any more after taking a dip in the pool while on holidays. It seems every three years I need a new camera for some reason…not like I take a lot of pictures or anything. Thank you so much! God is good!

Dulce Refugio April update

The work continues on the boys’ dorm. It has now been about two and half years since we started full time on the building of the boys’ dorm and the end is in sight. We have the front entrance door installed, the plastering project is coming along well. with the third floor completed plastered and about 80% of the second floor completed. The stairway has been all plastered as well. We estimate that the plastering will not be finished until the middle to end of May. We are continuing to tile the building and to paint the outside. A Canadian Chinese team of 20 people will be arriving from Calgary, Alberta on May 2nd to help with these finishing details.

The stucco project….have you noticed that the top-of-the-line elevator has been removed?


The tiling project…onely one more dorm bathroom to tile….

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The new front door….all made in house!



The outside of the boys’ dorm……


Work continues on the new water room as well. Dulce Refugio hopes to purify their own drinking water, so to accommodate this we needed to build an area where this could be done effectively. As mentioned earlier regarding the team, the Calgary Chinese team will also help with pouring the roof by hand….no pumper truck this time since it is such a small pour and 20 pairs of hands make light work!


Here is little Lupita enjoying her birthday cake…..I think she enjoyed it! She turned 5 years old.


Thank you for your prayers for this ministry, God bless.

Aaron Toews update April 2013

Things have been busy here!

The kid’s are about to have their spring break and Dulce and I are working on her American visa. Since we started working on it, we have been asked to drive a van to the U.S border to escort a family down here to Aguascalientes. This family (Jessie and Faith Beckett), from the U.S (Columbus Ohio) will be living here full time! They are bringing their five children that will continue to be home schooled here. You know that times are changing when a family moves from the U.S to Mexico and feels as though that it is a better place for their children to be raised. Their mission above all is to work with the children as they live in the new boy´s dorm.

I had my mother and brother (Taylor) come and visit. We took some vacation time a little early this year as they were in town. We went down south to the Yucatan peninsula. My mother offered to pay for hotels, which helped us make the difficult decision to go. After my brother left, my mother stayed for another two weeks. So, she was here for three weeks in total. She did a lot of work on getting tile surfaces ready to be grouted, and then we grouted two dorm rooms together. My Cousin, Aunt and her mother (my cousin´s grandmother) came to work as well (just after my brother left). Long story short, Grandma Olga slipped on a freshly mopped floor and broke her arm and hip! So we all scrambled around for a week getting her in and out of the hospital as we learned together how to deal with the insurance side of things. My Aunt stayed with her mother for an extra few weeks as she recovered. In the end the insurance company sent a nurse from Montreal to assist them in getting home with the wheel chair and all.

Just as they were leaving, Brian, the founder of Children of Hope, came down from Canada with his wife Betty (who is Mexican), to lead a group that went to Esperanza Para Ti orphanage in Queretaro. Just before the group arrived, they received a message that the Canadian Government was going to see Betty and their two daughter’s case to become Canadian citizens. The only problem was that the date with the judge was before the mission’s trip in Mexico would end. So, Dulce and I went to Queretaro and lead that group for their final 5 days. This group from Sothern Manitoba got all kinds of jobs done: built, welded up a metal utility shed with a thick cement pad, poured cement pads for the animals in the barn, framed the beams and roof to extend the main entrance for the house (to give it an entrance with a door, as it does not have a front door, it is just open), paved curbs and then placed paving stones between them to form a side walk around (approximately) a quarter of the house, modified/welded the roof and door way over the top of the stairway that leads to the girl´s bed rooms on the second floor so that people do not have to lower their head as they walk through, and they replaced the bad pluming at the bottom of an old water tank. They took the kids to the water slides (one girl had never even heard of water slides before), had a pizza night and then donated the left over money to an older girl’s (Michelle´s) private school tuition, as she had just registered for high school in a good private school in our final days there, and needed the money to secure her place and start classes. Monthly tuition for Michelle and other youth have been provided for by Canadians through Children of Hope to give them a better education that will be recognized by universities that can open doors for these kids as young adults. Here is a link to the Children Of hope website and blog about this group: http://childrenofhope.info/southern-manitoba-march-2013/

All during these last few months, Dulce and I have been taking the youth from Duce Refugio out for walks in the wilderness and bible studies, normally boys and girls on different days. With a few of the outings we tried to get a little more creative by playing games with them. We had a couple of scavenger hunts. The first one we did downtown with the girls, after one of our bible studies. They had to find random things, in some cases ask the public for help. One street vender even lent the girls a piece of his merchandise. For the second scavenger hunt, we took the all the youth (boys and girls) to a forest along a river (Sabinal Park). We centered the game around bible verses. For example: there was a narrow gate that they were told to look for and look up the bible verse “enter through the narrow gate”. Then, they wrote a few sentences explaining how the place they found themselves in related to the bible verse. One clue was a stone wall that began at a wide tree, and the clue to find it was “The tree that brought division” .The verse was where Adam and Eve ate from the tree. We had 18 kids and divided them into three groups. We divided the park into three zones. Each group had to take a photo at each clue (I will include some of the photos). In the end, we all gathered on the trunk of a huge tree for a bible study that had to do with the word being a lamp to our feet and relating it to how the word guided them through the game (how even at times, they became frustrated and argued amongst themselves (every group had a moment like this) and one group almost gave up! Most of them managed to get wet (even though they weren’t supposed to), so they all had fun. We graded the kids on creativity and effort in dealing with the scripture and taking photos. The next weekend we had a movie night with pop and chips. First and second place in the game got special snacks.
So, things have been fun, and the kids are enjoying our time together. They always ask when the next study is (as it is not always at the same time due to different activities going on around here), so I take that as a good sign. Even though some of them may be waiting for the outing more than the study, the idea is to have studies with discussion (something they don’t get in their devotions and church service) along with Christian fellowship that is done in an enjoyable way so that they don’t simply relate time in the bible as a daily, religious obligation…but something that is done alongside relationships, fun, something that is part of life, something that enriches life. I am clear that we do not simply go to the bible to make our lives better (I am clarifying what I mean by “enriches our lives”), because struggles will always be waiting for us too. The bible does not take them away, but guides us through them (that was part of the point of the game). The bible (God, Jesus) is not something we add on to our lives to make them better (like pop Christianity likes to teach, and believe me that is a common teaching here too). The word of God guides in life, in every area, and without it we will face much harsher consequences than simply: “not fulfilling our dreams”. “Fulfilling our dreams” or “having a better life” is often the carrot on the stick offered to the public so that they will seek God, as if he is the “dream fulfiller”. As if we are on our own throne, and God is an add on to complete our lives, simply make us better. We have to be clear: without holding onto Jesus like a life preserver in the middle of the Atlantic for salvation, without giving ear to the word of God with an open heart and following it with every step: we will be guided by our own hearts off the path set before us and then straight down to death and ruin: most likely in this life and surly in the one to come. “Guided by our own hearts off the path set before us and then straight down to death and ruin” was the point of our last study of the text of Proverbs 7.

I have been tiling and grouting in the orphanage and at home too, as Dulce and I found some wooden style tiles on sale. So we are tiling our kitchen. That has kept me busy with my free time. Spending hours curled up on a cement floor at the orphanage, and then at home can be a lot more painful than you might think.

Please pray that Dulce may get her visa: it would be a ten year one that would allow us to travel through the U.S, visit her family there and mine in Canada. Pray for our health please, I have been doing good but Dulce normally has some health problems here and there.

Thank you to all of you that remember we are down here. We are always encouraged by your help as you have offered it in various ways by supporting us here, when we come home to visit and through your faithfulness. May God bless you!

Aaron and Dulce Toews.

P.S Some of the photos have a description in their title, but most have been described in this Newsletter.

Southern Manitoba March 2013

Thanks to the Southern Manitoba team which helped out mostly at Esperanza para Ti and worked very hard improving the living conditions at this Children’s home. They worked on improving the entrance way to the home, built a nice storage area. Did a lot of welding projects as well as a fair bit of concrete work. They were there for 2 weeks and had 12 people in the team. They really connected with the kids. Thanks guys for all your hard work. I have attached a few pictures but sure there is a few more floating around on Facebook. IMG_1686IMG_1689 IMG_1690 IMG_1738 IMG_1739 IMG_1745 IMG_1764 IMG_1776 IMG_1789

Southern Ontario Team February 2013

Sorry for the late posting. We had a team of 12 people from Southern Ontario serving at our orphanages in Queretaro. They were able to accomplish numerous projects with painting, concrete work, building shelving units as well as connect with the children. Thanks so much team for your support and willingness to serve in central Mexico we hope to see you back next year. We have been so blessed with the team we receive each year from Southern Ontario.

Columbus, Ohio team visiting Dulce Refugio

On March 8th the Columbus, Ohio team arrived for a 10 day stay. There were about 5 team members who came on previous trips so they were very happy to re-unit with the children, whom some of them remembered from before. The team shared some songs on the Sunday worship service, in English and in Spanish, so that was special for the kids. They taught the children a number of new songs in both languages as well. After the service each team member was responsible for one or two children to go to the local Cedazo park for lunch and to enjoy a bit of fun time together. DSCF5288 DSCF5290 DSCF5295 DSCF5297 DSCF5300 DSCF5303 DSCF5310 DSCF5311 DSCF5312 DSCF5314 DSCF5317 DSCF5318 DSCF5320 DSCF5321 DSCF5323 DSCF5325 DSCF5326 DSCF5327   The team of 19 was kept busy with a lot of finishing details in the boys’ dorm. One of the biggest projects was the painting of the outside of the boys’ dorm. Some team members were sealing the building with the white paint, while others were applying the colour. The top and middle sections of the boys’ dormitory we will only be able to paint with the scaffolding, which the team wasn’t comfortable doing. Our volunteer welder, Martin Luna, was also able to install all the window protections on the first floor now it has been painted. As reference, about $1800 CAD was spent on paint for this building, which was donated by the Martinrea auto parts company!! DSCF5340 DSCF5347 DSCF5350 DSCF5365 DSCF5369 DSCF5376 DSCF5377 DSCF5381 DSCF5385 DSCF5386 DSCF5389 DSCF5390 DSCF5398 DSCF5399 DSCF5420 DSCF5461 DSCF5463 DSCF5464 DSCF5467 DSCF5468 DSCF5470 DSCF5492 DSCF5493   Other projects that the team was busy with included grouting the tile floors in two dorm rooms and a two suites, installing drywall in a suite, digging and pouring the foundation and floor to the new water purification room, installing a hot water heater, installing the weather stripping for all the 82 windows in the boys’ dorm, and other odds and ends… DSCF5334 DSCF5335 DSCF5339 DSCF5342 DSCF5343 DSCF5346 DSCF5348 DSCF5351 DSCF5352 DSCF5354 DSCF5356 DSCF5357 DSCF5364 DSCF5374 DSCF5375 DSCF5388 DSCF5391 DSCF5394 DSCF5396 DSCF5411 DSCF5412 DSCF5414 DSCF5415 DSCF5416 DSCF5417 DSCF5418 DSCF5422 DSCF5426 DSCF5458 DSCF5459 DSCF5460 DSCF5465 DSCF5466 DSCF5472 DSCF5474 DSCF5475 DSCF5488   As a special outing the team took the children to the movies. Cinopelis gave a discount for everyone to attend and it only cost $37 pesos o about $3 dollars per person. So the team treated everyone to popcorn and pop. The kids watched the new Oz movie. Some kids were a little scared of the winged monkeys but they thoroughly enjoyed the movie. DSCF5427 DSCF5428 DSCF5430 DSCF5431 DSCF5432 DSCF5433 DSCF5434 DSCF5436 DSCF5437 DSCF5439 DSCF5440 DSCF5441 DSCF5443 DSCF5444 DSCF5445 DSCF5446 DSCF5447 DSCF5448 DSCF5449 DSCF5450   On the team’s day off they visited the town of Guanajuato. On the way there, we stopped at the Cristo Rey del Cubilete stature. It was about 10 kilometers of cobble street to get there but the view was great! DSCF5506 DSCF5508 DSCF5513 DSCF5515 DSCF5519 DSCF5521 DSCF5522 DSCF5523 DSCF5524 DSCF5527 DSCF5528 DSCF5532 DSCF5533   As the final goodbye, the team made hamburgers for all the kids, or about 125 burgers! What a treat! DSCF5536 DSCF5539 DSCF5541 DSCF5542 DSCF5543 DSCF5544 DSCF5548 DSCF5550 DSCF5564 DSCF5565 DSCF5566 DSCF5567 DSCF5572 DSCF5573

Dulce Refugio February update

  Dulce Refugio was approved by Herbalife for a $30,000 USD in January. The majority of these funds will be going towards making a freezer / cold room. Dulce Refugio has over nine freezers and fridges used to store the food donations they receive every day. This cold room will help save electricity for the orphanage and make thing more efficient in food storage. This project has been many years in the making after try for three years o find a sponsor for this project. Funding will also go towards an industrial water purification system for the orphanage. A high quality system will be bought due to the high content of minerals in the water which have to be filtered out. This is due to the many hot springs that feed the cities water supply (hence the name Aguascalientes, hot waters or hot-springs). On February 20 the vice president of Herbalife Mexico and many other representatives from the company and government came to ceremonially present the cheque to Dulce Refugio. We hope that this support will be given for the next couple of years to help the children eat healthier. Dulce Refugio’s monthly food bill is about $1000 CAD to feed 50 children. Obviously we rely on over 80% of our food to be donated, so many times we can’t be picky with what comes but rather be thankful to our heavenly Father for providing for our bodily needs. DSCF5081 It has been a slow beginning of the year for Dulce Refugio in regards to hosting teams. Usually we have three or four teams coming in the first three months of January but not this year for some reason. Teams are an integral part of the construction project, both by raising funds, the labour they provide, and publicity they generate back in their home country. We still hope to host eight teams this year. We are looking forward to the arrival of the Columbus, Ohio team on March 8th. We have lots of work cut out for them!     Did you know?   Can you imagine not knowing the date of your birth? While there are a number of children who arrive at Dulce Reufigo who don’t know this one bit of important information! Most of the children at Dulce Refugio arrive through social services, and a number of these children arrive without even knowing their birth day. Social services can’t even get this information. The parents of these children never registered the birth with the government resulting in a birth certificate not being issued. So sometimes Marce Ortega or Erin Vogel have to go to great lengths to try to get this information, even trying to find relatives to see if they know anything about the child. This information is important for the child’s schooling to know which grade he or she should be in, and for government ID. So you may ask what do we do if we don’t know a birthday of a child, while we make one up or simply make it January 1. Imagine the self esteem issues a child has to face without being able to tell his friends when is birthday is! They have enough things to go through as it is.   DSCF4746   The progress on the Canada fund project has been progressing very well. We have fulfilled most of the activity guidelines and the project will be coming to a close on March 31st. This will be the third project that we have with the Canadian Embassy. On February 25th, Brian and Bety Heppner came to visit Dulce Refugio for two days. While they were here, Brian helped with cutting the glass for the 82 windows in the boys’ dorm, so helping to complete one of the important projects with Canada Fund. There are still a few more details to do with these windows, like installing the window strip, attaching the handles, and sealing the edges of the window frames with silicone. DSCF5154 Prayer requests:

  • Please pray that the municipal government will finalize the paperwork for the adjacent piece of property to go to Dulce Refugio. We hope to start building the school there in a few months, so we need this process to be completed sooner than later.
  • Please pray for the teenagers at Dulce Refugio as they deal with challenging behaviours and finding their “place” in the world.
  • We give thanks for the progress of the construction of the new boys’ dorm. We hope to have it ready by July 2013. Who is going to come for the inauguration of this building?
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