Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. Let’s Keep Each Other Informed


Firsthand accounts that describe how individual International Schools treat teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic will help us ALL to make informed career choices in the future. Schools which put teachers’ safety and well-being ahead of profits are schools where we all want to work.

Let’s help each other identify schools that we can depend on to support teachers in times like these. ISR invites you to Name Your School and tell colleagues about the support, or lack of support, your School is currently providing teachers in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About.

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about your School’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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194 thoughts on “Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. Let’s Keep Each Other Informed

  1. Treated staff well who did not return when asked depending on nationality – USA. These staff were not financially supported but promoted in absentee. Every other nationality was either let go or dragged along then let go.
    Staff who were present, and returned when asked by the school were and continue to be treated shamefully. Reduction in contractual benefits, no payment of most end of contractual benefits (to pay for a few besties ongoing travel expenses while they were contemplating their return), reduction in medical insurance, extra duties, classes, extended school year, to name a few. Avoid, avoid, avoid. There is a mass exodus this year for reason.

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  2. Malvern College Egypt
    I have read the damning reviews of MCE’s response to COVID and they are all true. The situation has however, become much more serious and the school staff are desperately hoping that someone, somewhere will help us.
    The new Headteacher refuses to inform teachers or close classes when there is a positive case. We are sent a weekly roundup which is vague and does not account for any children whose whole families are positive but, because the children haven’t been tested (usually on the school doctors advice), are counted as negative and STILL ATTENDING SCHOOL. Teachers have COVID, someone else covers the class, they get COVID and so it continues. Still classes are all open. I saw the review for NCBIS. We WISH we were at NCBIS because at least the number of cases is transparent, classes are shut and people are informed. We are teaching in hell, with sick children the Dr refuses to send home and with sick children from entirely positive families. Leadership is dictatorial and has already cost the lives of relatives of employees. I wish I was making this up. I’m not.

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  3. At NCBIS, COVID protocols put in place seem to change on a weekly basis. Lack of transparency on reporting of cases. Leadership through Fear tactics used if anyone objects to face to face learning. Teachers are scared.

    No pay cuts for academic year 2020/21 but no increase to the already sub-par housing allowance plus cuts to the flights allowance.

    School online last year by MoE orders from March to June 2020. School fully open from August 2020 and online briefly in January. School fully open again despite rising COVID cases. Management and board refuse to consider a hybrid approach.

    Local parents and many on Board regard COVID as a foreigner problem, despite 99% of the cases at NCBIS coming from local Egyptian students.

    Local students in secondary attend house parties and put everyone at risk. Many year 13 students claimed anxiety about COVID and did not sit mocks yet attend parties and spread COVID. Appallingly selfish behaviour. Continued weak management from the IB coordinator, HOS and deputy heads will see more of this behaviour.

    Sharp divide toward staff well being between primary and secondary. Primary leadership last year did well with staff support. In secondary, most of the leadership team — David Mate, Kevin Rossall and friends — went to Dahab for four months while the staff taught online. Says it all, really.

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  4. Yangon Academy, Myanmar. Totally idiotic, clueless and discriminatory approach to the pandemic. Some teachers stayed in Yangon and trapped for over a year not being able to travel and no extra compensation for the mental stress while others allowed to trot off back to their own countries and work online doing as little as possible with no accountability and nice fat salaries. David Miller is a complete waste of space and clueless about setting up a good virtual school. Very disappointing. Given the current situation in Myanmar and the potential for more of these situations to become regular occurrences, looking elsewhere for next year.

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    1. Some of us online teachers have worked long and hard hours teaching late into the might. I have earned every penny I have made.

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  5. Traill International School, Thailand

    Lots of knee jerk reactions to information from the Ministry of Education. Closed initially back in March 2020 for 3 months, then back to school for the last week of term.
    Staggered starts/endings which added an extra hour to the teachers’ working day and is still in place.

    On returning to school, an additional teaching period was added to the end of the school day, Period 9, so that the school could ‘give back’ to the parents. This was a joke, as the parents were more than happy with the provision the school provided for online learning.

    No pay cuts, but a pay freeze for academic year 2020/21.
    Medical coverage does not cover for covid – staff had to purchase their own independent covid insurance – expensive if you have a family.

    Currently in second wave of online learning – all of January so far.
    Management have changed the delivery platform from Zoom to Meet – no real training given to the teachers. More live lessons across the whole school. Seems to be working.

    Very little attention given to staff wellbeing, apart from a ‘reflection’ sent out weekly by the Principal.
    Limited praise given out; more criticism that positive affirmation for the excellent job the staff are doing.

    Many teachers now looking around for new positions; Thailand is in a good place globally but the overall treatment of staff and the ‘do this’ dictatorship by management has not won them any friends.

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  6. British International School Ukraine do not care about your health at the best of times (the worst excuse of Medical Insurance internationally for example) so, why would their Covid-19 response be any different?
    Covid is rife in school, with classes not shut down in cases of positive cases as it goes against the wishes of parents.
    The Ukraine is now back in lockdown and schools all shut except that is BISU!! You are in, working and risking your health with its poor hygiene, cleanliness and slap hazard mask wearing policy.
    Just avoid avoid avoid this school at all costs. Everyone regrets coming, everyone leaves early with damaged health.

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  7. Malvern College Egypt continues to lie their way through the COVID crisis ably supported by the school doctor and new Headteacher. Positive staff are allowed in the building and there is a cloak of secrecy over any cases involving staff with absolutely no transparency. School doctor refuses to refer people for PCR tests and the Headteacher covers up positive results. Teachers are scared, management indifferent or protecting their own jobs as they know they are sacked if they speak out. Feels like a dictatorship with staff as dispensable commodities. Do yourself and your health a favour, believe the unbelievable stories and go elsewhere.

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  8. Bangkok Prep had done an excellent job supporting teachers and protecting us from angry parents during the first lockdown. After Christmas break we had to start doing online learning again after an outbreak that started outside Bangkok. Travel is restricted but we’re able to move around the city and come into school. All contracts were honoured and we received our raises and bonuses. We have a very close community among our staff. I feel very lucky to work for this school. Other schools here have not been as good.

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  9. The British International School Ukraine opened up their school during a National Lockdown period to appease angry parents. Teachers are forced into work or quit. Some chose the later.

    This is while other schools in Kyiv have followed guidance and remain closed for the short period of time to allow the country to remain distant after Christmas celebrations.

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  10. American School of Guatemala has handled the pandemic well. The admin have been proactive & communicated well over the last 10 months. I feel blessed to work for a school that is well established and can handle this without letting go a lot of staff. The admin have supported teachers the best they can through out virtual school.

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  11. Tsinghua International School has done an amazing job from my perspective. I am a new teacher so I don’t know what thinks were like last school year. They did (and have been doing) an excellent job of keeping new teachers informed about any new information. They have also been incredibly supportive whenever support is needed. Salaries have always been paid on time even before coming to China. They didn’t give the housing allowance to teachers while out of China, which isn’t fair at all, but oh well. Overall, I think THIS has handled things with COVID about as well as I can imagine a school handling them.

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  12. British International School, Dnipro, Ukraine.

    The school has handled this terribly from the very beginning. The spring was all over the place, changing platforms and giving zero support to teachers. Over the summer, the admin apparently went on holiday and just hoped everything would be back to normal in September. No plans were made or shared with staff. The precautions that were said to be in place (and they’re still saying they’re in place) were not, and are not. The students have not been distanced from each other, cleaning of the school has actually seemed to decrease, students are not required to wear masks in the classroom, and although they are supposed to wear them in the hallway, that isn’t enforced. Many of the younger students ignore teachers when they’re asked to put a mask on, the older students role their eyes and tell teachers off. They feel this security because they are backed up by the administration, who are simply scared of pissing the parents off. Many of the teachers don’t wear masks, or don’t wear them properly, and the head of school says they don’t have to unless they’re in the hallway (some don’t even then). Originally it was said that windows should be opened for 10 minutes between lessons while students stay out in the hallway (all gathering without masks on). That went down to 5 min, then to “3-5 min”, and finally anytime you are caught with your windows open, the head of school or someone else will come in and angrily close them. Keeping them open during lessons is strictly not allowed, and you are monitored.
    After the winter holiday, the government put a quarantine into place from the 8th-24th. However, on the 8th (a Saturday), the school sent an email saying the chair of the school had a meeting with the Education Department and was given permission to open the school to teachers and students. The principal, who sent the email, had an automatic reply set up saying he was on holiday, so no questions or concerned were answered. The prinicipal later said that all private schools were given permission to open (I asked for a document since all government notices are saying that schools should be closed. I was told that I should take comfort that I don’t have to concern myself with this). Ukraine has Christmas on the 6th and 7th, meaning that large gatherings were taking place, at most, merely 4 days ago, and we are back in school with students (still not wearing masks). It’s known, also, that several of our students have been travelling abroad recently.
    Also, for any students who don’t want to come in (whether because they’re sick, or on holiday), they can do the classes remotely.
    We have had at least 2 cases of COVID amongst the international staff (there are only 8 of us), and several more amongst the Ukrainian staff. As much as possible the administration will try to keep any confirmed cases from the rest of the staff, either by not saying anything, or blatently lying. In one case, a teacher was home with a confirmed case of COVID, having posted her positive test on FB, and the head of school was telling staff that she had received a negative test. If a student is found to have a confirmed case, it is kept as quiet as possible, first by the Ukrainian head from the British head, then from the British head to the rest of the staff. At least twice, confirmed cases were walking around the school without masks on and it took several days to send the students home. In the first case, they did not isolate at all.

    It’s not a safe or healthy environment. It is toxic in every sense.

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  13. The American School in Taichung, Taiwan. AST has done a remarkable job with dealing with this situation. At the beginning, when teachers/students/parents were thrown into the deep end of learning how to do online school, our director at the time, Anthony Keen, was very supportive and would hold weekly zoom meetings with faculty to share what worked and what to drop. With the help of his co-director, Annie Tung, the response was organized, and they tried to lighten the atmosphere and be positive, and everyone jumped in to help (I had morning alcohol spray and temperature taking duty!). That was fun, as we all tried to make it a positive and fun way to start the day (wearing goofy masks, etc).
    We only had a few months of online teaching, as Taiwan has done a brilliant job of dealing with Co-vid. Our new director, Colin Brown, has carried on with dealing with this in the same manner, and they follow all the government rules (ie, recently going back to mandatory mask wearing). We’re still in session, and the school has kept all staff and faculty with no cut in pay or letting anyone go. I feel very lucky to be here, especially with the way Taiwan is handling the crisis, as well as AST.

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  14. East-West International School, Phnom Penh Cambodia

    The school guaranteed salaries to staff but teachers did not receive a step up on the pay chart as salaries remained flat. SLT has indicated that this will be addressed next year and teachers would get extra benefits/bonuses. The handling of COVID has been great. Although there hasn’t been many infections, the school has had to shift back and forth between hybrid and online learning. Director Jeff Kane was very honest and transparent, and Secondary Principal Tim LaRocco and Counselor Landon Seigler have worked tirelessly to help support teachers despite the lack of resources the school has. I am proud to work there and will continue to do so.

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  15. Chadwick International School
    Incheon, South Korea

    Chadwick has surpassed my expectations. No pay cuts, all contracts honored, and working hard to keep all students and staff safe with respect and dignity.

    Chadwick follows the MoE guidelines when COVID levels change. They may try different scenarios each level, but they worked hard and listened to teacher feedback to find what worked best for all involved.

    I am so lucky to work for this school (period!) at this time. I’m so sad to read what many of you are going through.

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  16. Vanke Meisha Academy
    Shenzhen, China

    1. Starting in January Principal Wang He began to lie to faculty and staff that anything was happening in the country.
    2. During vacation she started sending crazy emails to people telling them that they needed to prepare for the crisis…literally screaming at them if they didn’t answer her immediately, mind you people were on vacation and most out of the country and she refused to consider the time differences.
    3. Towards the end of Chinese NY, she began demanding people return to Shenzhen and threatening them with no pay or firing. She was warned not to do this by her Deans and Directors, she did it anyways and only backed off after International Faculty refused.
    4. For 3 weeks she harassed her team and especially the Chinese staff, even sending letters and emails with foul language and threatening jobs. Mainly the Chinese staff were the focus.
    5. Once on line teaching began, things were great, with zero help from Principal Wang…Maryann Obrien and her team worked overtime to get things ready.
    6. In March, When the boarders began to open, she again threatened people with their jobs if they did not return immediately and gave deadlines. People in neighboring countries did book flights, but people in Europe and the US, could not afford the prices and the school was not willing to help. Prices for one way at that time were ranging in the 3000 to 4000, if someone did book a flight it would be canceled as the dates approached.
    7. After people in Southeast Asia booked flights to return, China closed the boarders and gave 24 hours to get into the country. Several teachers made it, but most did not.
    8. Her next steps were to harass her SLT(Deans and Directors) who were not in country or Shenzhen and not include them in meetings and discussions that they clearly needed to be a part of. She also continued harassing her Chinese staff, especially those not in Shenzhen.
    9. Jumping ahead, by October she had made her International Deans resign, both Deans were amazing and had made huge impacts at the school. She has also used this period of crisis to either force resignations of Chinese staff or force transfers.
    10. Sadly, this did not create a productive environment but one in which people are constantly playing catch up and finger pointing/back stabbing has become the norm. So we are not a happy community.

    When the lock down occurred, I was one of the lucky ones who was in China and was able to get food with the help of friends. The school offered us zero help in getting food and meeting the requirements to travel within the city. The only positive thing was that our pay checks still came, but after 3 years of being at this school I will be moving on.

    What we have been left with is a school that continues to function with zero plan or directions. Wang He has gone back to her original behavior before the virus of constantly being absent from school or being extremely late. Bullying her team via phone from home and doing nothing but barking orders…most of which she forgets she did because she doesn’t write things down. She has backed off threatening International staff, mainly out of fear of looking bad. What she has done is required her Chinese staff to fill the void in all areas with no extra pay or praise.

    Don’t worry the Christmas Gala went off perfectly and she was able to perform and have all eyes on her. Mind you, the Gala cost more than some faculty members make for a year in salary….and the Gala is one night.

    Mass exodus will occur this Spring of both Chinese and International Staff.

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  17. The International School of Hsinchu Science Park, and Taiwan in general, have done an exceptional job of ensuring that the entire community is safe. It comes down to a selfless regard for others vs. freedom to do as “I” please. The record speaks for itself. Peace and blessings…

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  18. UNIS-Hanoi initially didn’t handle the COVID-19 crisis well. Although Admin. agreed not to lay off any current staff, they reneged on 10 of the 30 new overseas-hires who were recruited months before. Thus, these 10 teachers were royally screwed in May of 2020 when they were left without a job after prime recruiting season was over (no compensation of any kind was given). They also took away the promised raise to all teachers for this school year and compelled multiple staff members to take on multiple roles (I.e., PYP Coordinator combined with Assoc. Prin., etc.) . The bottom line is that Admin. seemed to over-react in order to placate parents. Interestingly enough, the 20 new teachers were able to get in country in Aug. 2020 and not only did UNIS-Hanoi reach their student enrollment goal, but the exceeded it. But this caused another problem in that the school is now understaffed for the amount of students they have crammed into seats. To their credit, they flew in a new counselor to help the strained Counseling Dept. and next year, it looks like they are going back to relatively normalcy in regards to their recruiting and salaries/benefits. I know the school’s reputation took a huge hit from this, though, from some of those early decisions. It’s a shame because it’s a great school to work in my opinion.

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  19. Canadian International School Bangalore cut all pay 14 – 20%. Even if you are teaching a full load and your classes all have a full roster. This was done a month AFTER classes started, which begs the question of their level of reactivity rather than proper proactive financial planning.

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  20. Shanghai American School has laid off some current faculty and furloughed others, pulled the contracts of some new hire teachers and reduced salary 20% for teachers that are out of country and 80% for TAs. The school was open, communicative and supportive through the first 5-6 months but silent, blunt and threatening over the past 1-2 when working with their staff who were overseas. It was a rather eye opening and disappointing experience. Somehow “assuming positive intentions” was left behind as time passed.

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  21. Cairo English School
    Egypt

    As instructed by the MoE we started online learning on Sept. 1 and have been allowed to bring students back on Sept. 15 with a MAXIMUM of 20 students in the class.

    Other schools in the area are bringing HALF the class back for one week and then bringing the other HALF in the following week. This will carry on until they feel the need to change. It also means approximately 13 students in the class at one time.

    Not at CES. Odd numbered year groups will come in one week and even numbered year groups will come in the following week, which means there will be anywhere from 26-28 students jammed into small classrooms. 2 students sitting together at a 5′ table with 4 tables in a row side by side.

    Parents have been told that safety is the #1 priority however they are not allowed into the school to see how the classrooms are set up.

    Rumour has it that this so-called Phase 2 that we are in will last for only 1.5 weeks and then ALL students will be brought back to school. That will be exciting…..and a disaster.

    And, on a separate note, during the last couple months of last year, there were THREE POSITIVE cases at the school. Were the staff made aware of this information? NO WAY!!! The fact that management didn’t tell the staff about this is absolutely appalling!!!

    Not a great start to the year.

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  22. St. Andrew’s School in Nassau, The Bahamas
    Principal: Gordon McKenzie

    We endured a very strange few months from March onwards. Not only did the country itself close down for many months, but as expected St. Andrew’s School did as well. We changed over to online learning and parents and pupils talked about how much they appreciated what we did. The school furloughed some support staff during this time, and we teachers kept watching to see what changes Gordon McKenzie and the school would make.

    During the summer, everything was quiet, and then we arrived back to be told that we would have to take a pay cut, because the student numbers were low. We also lost our health insurance that is paid by the school. Some of us were told only last week (August 17th) that we were being furloughed! Nobody knows when that furlough will stop, either. What we also understand is that McKenzie is bringing in two of his friends in January, so we feel insulted having to deal with these cuts, but clearly there is money in the budget for him to bring in his friends.

    Lyford Cay and Windsor School are also in this island. Anyone there who can talk about what’s going on at your place? We would love to compare notes!

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    1. Lyford Cay has stayed online the whole time. No cases of Covid in their school. The principal at Windsor Prep named Ben Fox tells people that Lyford is jealous that Windsor is open. However, Ben released information today taht Windsor prep has a positive Covid case. The funny thing is that the whole community already knew about this, and also knows about the other cases that the school is keeping quiet. Ben and his girlfriend Lesley Owens are the principal and vice principal of the school so they know what is said outside.

      Windsor’s Albany site is now run by Dr Mark P Ott. Mark replaced Gerry Young this year and has also changed the whole curriculum, brough his friend in to be his vice principal and has lost a lot of staff. Between the 2 schools, at least 8 members of staff have quit. Neither of the schools invited teachers to return in the fall 2020 until the end of June, which put people in bad situations. Albany has 2 Covid cases in the school, and sent home most of the students. They are also covering over students who are positive but not reported to parents. With the new Covid case at the elementary school, it will effect the Albany site, because the positive case in elementary has siblings at Albany.

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    2. Ben Fox, Lesley Owens, Ramesh Rajballie, and Dr Mark P Ott

      At the time, we were ok with sending my kids to Windsor, but lately, we regret this and feel it’s the best decision made to withdraw them because they are doing so much better now. We have discussed concerns and experiences with other parents all over the island the past years and it’s been interesting to see just how many of us here have had similar experiences which is what we want to share.

      First of all, the two schools pretend to be connected but they are not, and they have become a mirror image of each other. Ben Fox who insists on being called “Mr Fox” is the principal at Windsor Elementary. 2 years ago, He was joined with his unmarried partner and told people that their work with a London private school who had the British royal family in it would be innovative and an improvement of what we’d all seen before. The school had gone through countless principals before Fox, so anyone that could last more than a year would be an improvement, or so we were told by the owner. We were at the first parents’ evening when Fox himself boasted and joked that he got his job because of his friend on the board. Fox’s partner is his assistant, and we all see he does the work so that she gets paid for doing little, she is hardly ever seen and never teaches. Our kids couldn’t tell us where they saw her in the school, and when the Covid situation hit, we never heard anything from her until the school opened again many months later, so talk about the school paying her for months to teach her kids at home! To be hired at the school, Fox’s emails once said that they were brought in as “recommendations” from existing staff, and this made many people feel like it was jobs for friends and not bringing in the best teachrs, which didn’t really give us any faith in the system or in his ability to search for the best teachers for our kids. Fox also emails a lot during the week which ranged from bees near garbage cans to some program for riding a bicycle to school that lasted a month. We received emails so often that we stopped reading them.

      Now the school has brought in another principal in the high school named Dr Mark Ott. Ott replaced the previous principal who we were also told was world class and would take the school to the next level. Each year, parents were told some lie about the results and the explanations became more unbelievable each year. Like Fox, we have found out that Ott also has a friend who got him the job, but it’s someone other than Fox’s friend. Ott didn’t bring his partner with him to run the school, but instead, it’s his friend who has a criminal arrest record in Masachusets. Unlike Fox, Ott doesn’t like people to talk with him and he has no people skills. He doesn’t answer his emails, and when our friends tried to talk with him on the phone, they told us that he didn’t seem interested to speak with them and tried to cut the conversation off. They told us that Ott can’t even read from the script when the school met on zoom, and that it was embarrassing to watch him fumble to read from what he wrote. We have seen many staff leaving both schools since September of this year, and who knows will be there when the new year starts? Then again, the school had a pedophile as a sports teacher who liked to inappropriately touch the girls in the locker room, but they had to let him go when he stole a car at Albany. Unlike Fox paying the media to run a happy story about the elementary school, the Covid situation at the high school has been covered by the press, and parents are wondering who is next to become sick.

      We left Windsor because we wouldn’t trust it with our childrens future any longer. Windsor was ok when everyone was our kids were younger and the results were not as important. But now that Covid showed us that we needed much more for our kid’s futures, if you’re interested in an education, go somewhere else. From what we have been told, unless your family is one of the in-crowd, you will not do well here. There are other options if you look for them.

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  23. The American International School of Guangzhou has exceeded my every expectation. Administration has been supportive and empathetic. Pay has remained the same and all new hires still have their jobs. Such a relief! I’m sorry for all who have had hard situations.

    Liked by 1 person

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