$8,209
pledged of $50,500pledged of $50,500 goal
108
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 4 2018 1:37 AM UTC +00:00
Michael DominicBy Michael Dominic
First created
Michael DominicBy Michael Dominic
First created
$8,209
pledged of $50,500pledged of $50,500 goal
108
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 4 2018 1:37 AM UTC +00:00

About

CLEAN HANDS is a feature-length documentary, shot over a 7-year period. It tells a remarkable, true-life story about extreme poverty in the third world, set against family, dreams, and the innocence of children. For our main family, there is a dream-come-true rescue, which gives them a chance at a far better life, followed by some real-life challenges like those we all face. The film is set in Nicaragua, centered on the Lopez family. It is life in the third world as it is so rarely told: the good and the bad, presented with detail and intimacy.

LA CHURECA: When we first meet the Lopez family - mother, father, grandmother, and four children - their survival depends entirely upon combing through wretched refuse for scraps. This is La Chureca, a gigantic garbage dump, at the time the largest in Central America. A thousand people actually lived there among the decrepit sights and smells, scavenging and competing for food, wood, recyclables, and whatever other discarded waste they might be able to somehow use. There is nothing even remotely comparable to La Chureca in the civilized world. It is a desperate, desolate, and dangerous life.

BEAUTIFUL, INNOCENT CHILDREN: The four Lopez children are ages 6 to 10 when we first meet them (2011). They have never been to school, so they can neither read nor write. But they are kids - prone to mischief and silliness all the same. They rely on each other as siblings, playmates, companions, and friends. Unlike their parents, they don't fully grasp what they don't have. La Chureca is the only life, and only world, they've ever known. 

AN AMAZING EVENT, AND A NEW CHANCE FOR  A BETTER LIFE: After several visits to Nicaragua, Michael (the filmmaker) began spreading the word about his film project and what he'd found. It reached the ears of an American philanthropist who was moved by the plight of the Lopez children. Like an angel, she comes to their aid. It doesn't happen often in the third world but it happened here. She builds them a small house on the Nicaraguan countryside. She furnishes it. It sits on land so they can farm and self-subsist. She sets one requirement - the children must attend school. The family is joyful that they can now escape the desperation and dead-end life of La Chureca.  

L: the Lopez' new house in the Nicaraguan countryside; R: says Blanca: "I have never seen a gift like this - beds for my children."
L: the Lopez' new house in the Nicaraguan countryside; R: says Blanca: "I have never seen a gift like this - beds for my children."

EDUCATION: The children take to their new lives, comfortable beds, furniture, and freedom to play outside. They are excited to attend school. Of course, they have much to catch up on in study, and in learning to socialize with other children. In time, they do. 

the 4 Lopez children attending school for the first time
the 4 Lopez children attending school for the first time

THE "BETTER" LIFE: The family adjusts to the new opportunity, home, and farm. But this better life becomes complicated, as life so often does. Blanca (the mother) in particular must face demons from her troubled past. The human drama unfolds, and new struggles ensue, as CLEAN HANDS takes viewers on a captivating emotional ride. 

Life on the farm. L: Blanca carrying a pig; R: Javier (the father) harvesting corn
Life on the farm. L: Blanca carrying a pig; R: Javier (the father) harvesting corn

This film is a powerful story of survival, togetherness, liberation, and the unending challenge prevalent in the third world. As the story progresses, we see the children grow. The film conveys reality, a stark reality at times, inspiring and filled with love at other times; emotionally compelling every step of the way. 

Michael Dominic is a New York-based filmmaker and photo journalist, who has spent 7 years chronicling this story to make this film. He is excited to bring it to life. His last feature film was the award-winning Sunshine Hotel. 

Says Michael: "Life in the third world is usually portrayed in short bursts, rarely with detail and almost never with human intimacy. I wanted to break that mold with this film, and do it in an honest and personal way. It certainly has become personal to me. I have finished shooting, and am so very close to completion. 

We all struggle to have our voices heard. Projects on Kickstarter are about the crowd and the crowd is all about the sum of many voices. Add your voice. Please check out the cool Rewards. Thank you for visiting this Kickstarter, and thanks in advance for your support." 

L to R: Javier, Blanca, Mita (grandmother), filmmaker Michael Dominic, and the Lopez children: Zulema, Edgar, Manuel and Chico. This photo was taken in early 2018.
L to R: Javier, Blanca, Mita (grandmother), filmmaker Michael Dominic, and the Lopez children: Zulema, Edgar, Manuel and Chico. This photo was taken in early 2018.


**** By virtue of its fiscal sponsorship, pledges made to this campaign are tax-deductible, to the amount and extent allowable by law. See section on "fiscal sponsorship" - very bottom of page.  ****

ABOUT ABJECT POVERTY; LA CHURECA

Abject Poverty is "a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs: food, safe drinking water, sanitation, education, and information."  In the third world, it transcends lack of income to include lack of access. 

La Chureca covers 7 square km's, once the largest open air dumpster in Central America. It is surrounded by high brick walls, with vultures soaring non-stop overhead. It is a breeding ground for flies, microbes, and worse. The thick cloud of yellowish smoke covering the area (see image just below) is from fires set by the government to burn garbage and help retrieve iron and other materials. The air is rife with the stench of shoe glue, lead, rotting food, and excrement. Of the thousand or so that lived there foraging for subsistence, almost half were children. 

Michael first visited La Chureca in 2011, and was sufficiently moved to consider it as a subject for his next film. He revisited Nicaragua later in 2011, when he met the Lopez family, and was captivated by the spirit of the children. When a philanthropist chose to help the Lopez family, CLEAN HANDS became a unique third-world storyline that now incorporated real hope and opportunity. 

ABOUT YOUTH, INNOCENCE, AND HOPE

The Lopez kids at La Chureca, brimming with the spirit of innocence, playing with each other, and doing their jobs
The Lopez kids at La Chureca, brimming with the spirit of innocence, playing with each other, and doing their jobs

Everyone has dreams. As we grow older, our dreams are often modified by experiences, opportunity, and/or lack thereof. Adults whose dreams are not realized can become jaded; some become bitter and start to lose hope. Children are way more innocent. They prioritize play. They live more in "the now". They are less cognizant of the haves and the have nots. They are still absorbing information anew, still growing in understanding and appreciation of the world at large. 

Says Michael: "I had no initial expectation that CLEAN HANDS would take on sociological significance. But when a philanthropist gave the family a chance at a better life, I became struck by two contrasts, the first between their life at La Chureca versus their life after, and the second between the innocence of the children, so pure, so focused on hope versus the more jaded perception of the adults, whose focus was on regret. This remained present, and at times prevalent even in the midst of their new-found good fortune and potential salvation, and I find that to be fascinating."  

ABOUT RESCUE AND SALVATION 

We've all heard the expression "never give up hope." We've all heard "every day is a new day." And "we need to learn to live with our regrets.". In CLEAN HANDS, the Lopez family are essentially rescued, but we learn there is a big difference between rescue, which for them came from the outside, and salvation, which must come largely from within.

FILMMAKER COMMENTARY 

Says Michael: "When I’m talking about my films, whether with friends or professionally, I am most frequently asked what makes me travel thousands of miles to dangerous parts of the world to document stories and lives. I am fascinated and ravenously curious about the unknown, especially the tight spaces of the world that have not been chronicled as frequently. I try to find something heartfelt in both story and image. Given that, the real objective of my work is truth, and sometimes truth lies beneath the surface or out of sight. 

In 2011, I was in Nicaragua on assignment as a photojournalist for a European newspaper. A friend of mine suggested that I visit La Chureca. I did. I was speechless. My work had taken me to many places of abject poverty, but this seemed more extreme. It resonated. I made the decision to return to learn more about the denizens that spent all their days sifting though the foulest of the foul to sustain life. My initial plan was to make a film about several people living there. I expected to shoot over the course of six months, edit it and have a completed film within a year. Again, that was in 2011. 

On my third trip I saw the four Lopez kids gathering fish carcasses. I was taken by their togetherness, lightheartedness, spirit, and ease in front of the camera. When the philanthropist decided to help them, I knew the film would take on a new direction, that I'd chronicle the family as the primary subject, contrasting La Chureca with their lives afterward. I traveled to Nicaragua 11 times over nearly seven years. The last trip was January of 2018. I have amassed nearly 200 hours of footage. After this Kickstarter, I will finish distilling it into a 1 hour 40 minute documentary, hoping that others see it as being filled with powerful and unique human drama.

This film is the work that I am most proud of in my life. 

One other thing I get asked frequently is “what advice would you give to someone making a documentary for the first time?” The answer, ironically, is the same. Truth. To me truth in documentaries is paramount. My complete answer is: 'Observe your subjects, and tell their truth and not your own.' 

There IS such a thing as truth. I try not to ever forget that, and am grateful to be able to convey it in film."

- Michael

MEET THE TEAM 

Michael Dominic - Producer/Director

Michael is a filmmaker and photojournalist. He made Sunshine Hotel, a documentary feature about one of the last flophouses on New York City's Bowery. It won three best documentary awards and was nominated for eleven others. After its festival run it played on The Sundance Channel for several years. As a photojournalist, his work has appeared in dozens of major media outlets. He has been working on Clean Hands since 2011, and considers it his finest work to date. He lives in New York City with his wife Ting.

Alexandra Kristine Smith - Editor

Alexandra is a video editor and graphic artist. Her clients have included Philips, AB InBev, LG, Edition Hotels, Macy’s, and others. She also makes miniature food out of clay, creates terrariums, and dabbles in interactive art. She enjoys survival horror video games, Dragon Age, the (very dated) British cooking show Two Fat Ladies, and dogs. She resides in New York City.

Juan Pablo Gutierrez - Associate Producer

Juan Pablo is a native Nicaraguan and an accomplished Associate Producer. He has worked for many international productions and news organizations. When not working on films he works with family, helping them tend to their two ranches. He has three children himself and lives in Jinotepe, Nicaragua.

Zoe Keating - Featured Music 

Zoe Keating is a cellist, composer, and one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layers, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music. She is known for her DIY approach, releasing her music online and developing a considerable following without the help of a record label. She has played and recorded with a wide range of artists, including Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer, Tears for Fears, DJ Shadow, and Thomas Dolby. Some of her music is featured in the film.

BUDGET, TIMELINE, & USE OF PROCEEDS 

Budget: The relative sizes of the slices in the pie are based on funding the Kickstarter at the target level. Additional funding will positively impact all variables, starting with original music score, and narration. Timeline: The shooting has concluded, and the editing process has begun. Upon success with Kickstarter, post-production efforts will escalate beginning in October and continuing through the holidays. A rough cut will be submitted to festivals shortly after the Kickstarter. Sound mixing, color correction, graphics, effects, music and narration will follow, and finish before year's end. 

WHY KICKSTARTER  

This campaign has come to Kickstarter for INDEPENDENCE, TRUTH, and COMMUNITY.

INDEPENDENCE - the filmmaker has developed an independent vision for the film over the 7 years. Success on Kickstarter allows him to share that vision in the final cut. TRUTH - this film shows life in the third world, both good and bad, in an intimate and personal way not often portrayed in film. The filmmaker believes the story needs to be told with truth - the Lopez' truth. COMMUNITY - this film strives to reach a community that is sensitive to the issues raised. What better place than Kickstarter, where communities sharing common interests are forged and fostered every day?

ABOUT THE REWARDS 

BELOW ARE DETAILS AND IMAGES of some of the Rewards. Here are some guidelines first: CAN YOU MIX AND MATCH? Yes, you can. If there are Rewards you'd like in a certain combination or quantity that are not offered that way, send a message by clicking the round photo of Michael at the top left of the page, and then "CONTACT ME". Glad to work it out. DELIVERY DATES: The Rewards deliveries are approximate, and reflect a delivery date of a best-guess for the film's completion, and may change based on distribution issues; we are likely to fulfill many of the Rewards a bit earlier than projected. MAKING YOUR "CHOICES": All "options" involved in any Reward tier (t-shirt size, for example) will be made AFTER the campaign.   

PERSONAL PACKAGE FROM NICARAGUA: our most special Reward. The unisex jewelry (below) is produced in Nicaragua. Every piece is unique. They are designed using post production waste from La Chureca. Paper, cloth and leather scraps are brought to artisan workshops in Managua, where locals create the final pieces with love and laughter. Blue and white are prevalent, as these are the colors of Nicaragua. Sterling silver is added. The jewelry is water resistant so you can wear it while you dance in the rain. Shout out to ChurecaChic for amazing work, and for all they do. (Scroll down for more.) 

Also part of the PERSONAL PACKAGE FROM NICARAGUA - this  'ESPERANZA' bag is created by up-cycling fabric scraps. No two are alike. Perfect for cosmetics and for general use. The women who make them receive jobs, skill training and education programs. Another shout out to ChurecaChic. 


POSTER - SEE BELOW; shout out to Nicaraguan artist Fernando Perez for a wonderful job. 

QUESTIONS 

If you've got questions, please ask. Michael and his team are pleased to respond. At the top of the page on the left there is a small round image of Michael - click that, then click CONTACT ME to send a message.

FISCAL SPONSOR

FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS, INC.

Risks and challenges

Making a full length feature film, documentary or otherwise, is a challenge for anyone, even for a major studio. It is a substantial endeavor, with many moving parts. Independent film producers have to especially be able to roll with the punches.

This campaign minimizes risk because we are not starting from scratch. It's taken years to get it to this point, and along the way, we've done what we had to do - raising and/or borrowing money, financing some of it from limited personal funds, etc.

The funds from KS will now allow us to complete final production, edit the film, and add the post-production elements that can really make a film like this special.

Our scope of work, time frames, and budgets are reasonable. It's not Michael's first rodeo, so to speak. And he is on a mission to share it.

We therefore say with total confidence - when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds, this film will be made, it will be screened at festivals, and all rewards will be delivered fully, and on a timely basis.

Thanks for your support.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 6 or more About US$ 6

    STUNNING SCREENSAVER

    This screensaver will rotate between 6 uplifting images from the film CLEAN HANDS featuring the Lopez children. Now, when you sit down at your computer in the morning w your coffee, you will find yourself thinking about the vitality and playfulness of youth, and the story you helped fund. You will start your day with a smile. Also - we thank you by name on our website, and I thank you - right here and now - for your support.

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    Pledge US$ 12 or more About US$ 12

    ANOTHER FILM BY MICHAEL - SUNSHINE HOTEL

    You receive the screensaver and thank you's from the $6 level above PLUS you will receive a digital download of Michael Dominic's first award-winning documentary feature Sunshine Hotel (about one of the last flophouses on New York City's Bowery). This is included with every subsequent reward on this page. And since the film was released some time ago, this reward will be fulfilled as soon as this campaign ends.

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    Pledge US$ 18 or more About US$ 18

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF FILM

    You will receive the screensaver and thank you's from the $6 level, PLUS Sunshine Hotel from the $12 level PLUS you will receive the film - a digital download of CLEAN HANDS. Watch and enjoy with a special someone. (Special someone not included.)

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    Pledge US$ 24 or more About US$ 24

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD DELUXE - EARLY BIRD

    You will receive the screensaver and thank you's from the $6 level, PLUS Sunshine Hotel from the $12 level PLUS you will receive a DELUXE download of the film CLEAN HANDS, with extra's including bonus photography, interviews, and outtakes not used in the final cut. Limited to 50 at this price.

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    Pledge US$ 28 or more About US$ 28

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD DELUXE

    You will receive the screensaver and thank you's from the $6 level, PLUS Sunshine Hotel from the $12 level PLUS you will receive a DELUXE download of the film CLEAN HANDS, with extra's including bonus photography, interviews, and outtakes not used in the final cut.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    DVD W VOICE-OVER COMMENTARY

    You will receive everything from the $28 level above, including the "deluxe" extra's and bonuses - but the film CLEAN HANDS will be on DVD, PLUS you receive an "extra special" feature - a version of the film on that DVD which has voice-over commentary containing anecdotes and behind the scenes insights from Michael and special guests.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    BLU-RAY W VOICE-OVER COMMENTARY

    Exactly the same as the $40 Reward (above) except instead of DVD, the film is on Blu-Ray.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    T-SHIRT PLUS NAME IN CREDITS

    You will receive everything from the $28 level above, including the "deluxe" download of the film CLEAN HANDS with all the extra's, PLUS a beautiful T-SHIRT designed by a Nicaraguan artist that you'll be proud to wear PLUS you will be immortalized as your name will appear in the closing credits under: "The Producers Wish to Thank." Note: Choice of T-shirt size and color is all made after the campaign, see section on About the Rewards.

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    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    POSTER - SIGNED - PLUS NAME IN CREDITS

    You will receive everything from the $28 level above, including the "deluxe" download of the film CLEAN HANDS with all the extra's, PLUS a beautiful and artful POSTER created by a talented artist, and hand-signed by Michael. This will sure look good on your wall PLUS you will be immortalized as your name will appear in the closing credits under: "The Producers Wish to Thank." Note: as it is a work of art, the poster will be shipped in a protective tube. SEE "ABOUT THE REWARDS" FOR A PHOTO OF THE POSTER - SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM OF PAGE.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    COMBO1: T-SHIRT, POSTER, & NAME/CREDITS

    You will receive everything from the $28 level above, PLUS the t-shirt from the $60 level PLUS the signed poster from the $70 level, PLUS your name on the screen as you are thanked in the closing credits.

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    COMBO2: T-SHIRT/POSTER/DVD, NAME/CREDITS

    You will receive everything from the $28 level above, PLUS the t-shirt from the $60 level PLUS the signed poster from the $70 level, PLUS - your choice of CLEAN HANDS on DVD or Blu-Ray, plus your name on the screen as you are thanked in the closing credits.

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    Pledge $185 or more About $185

    INSIDER SPECIAL

    You will receive everything from the $110 level Reward, above, PLUS three unique items only offered at this Reward level: a digital Press Kit on the film, a 1 on 1 phone call with Michael (after the campaign), and a download of "deleted scenes" - some of which are quite special. Thanks for being an Insider, and supporting this campaign in such a special way. Of course, you are also thanked in the end credits.

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    Pledge $260 or more About $260

    PARTY TIME IN L.A. - VIP TIX TO PREMIERE

    You receive everything from the $60 level above, PLUS -- 2 VIP tickets to the Los Angeles-area premiere of the film. (Travel not included.) Join with us in the "Michael Dominic" group for a celebration of the film's release. We don't have all the details but we already know one thing for sure - this will be a special, heartfelt, and memorable night! And you will see your name on screen, thanked in the end credits.

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    Pledge $260 or more About $260

    PARTY TIME IN N.Y. - VIP TIX TO PREMIERE

    You receive everything from the $60 level above, PLUS -- 2 VIP tickets to the New York-area premiere of the film. (Travel not included.) Join with us in the "Michael Dominic" group for a celebration of the film's release. We don't have all the details but we already know one thing for sure - this will be a special, heartfelt, and memorable night! And you will see your name on screen, thanked in the end credits.

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    Pledge $360 or more About $360

    PERSONAL PKG. FROM NICARAGUA

    This special reward includes everything from the $60 level PLUS a very special and substantial package from Nicaragua containing native products and crafts INCLUDING handmade jewelry and fashion accessories re-purposed DIRECTLY FROM recycled paper, cloth, leather, etc. from La Chureca itself; ALSO, incredibly tasty artisanal small-batch coffee, PLUS unisex cosmetic bags, AND some unique custom-made surprises. You will appreciate the quality, quantity, variety and thought underlying this Reward. You will also be thanked in the end credits of the film and your thank you will appear under "Extra Special Thanks to ... " SEE "ABOUT THE REWARDS" AT BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR PHOTOS OF SOME OF THE ITEMS. .

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    PERSONAL PKG FROM THE LOPEZ FAMILY

    This extra special reward includes everything from Nicaragua as per the $360 level above (including the handmade jewelry and fashion accessories re-purposed from La Chureca itself, the artisanal small batch coffee, and special surprises) PLUS a personal hand-crafted and hand-signed one-of-a-kind gift from the Lopez family. This personalized "thank you" from Nicaragua and the Lopez family will stay with you forever, and your thank you in the end credits of the film will appear under "Extra Special Thanks to ... " which you so richly deserve. Limit of 10.

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    Pledge $1,300 or more About $1,300

    PERSONAL PKG/PRIVATE SHOWING W DIRECTOR

    This awesome reward, for which only 4 are available, includes everything from the $600 above level (including the handmade jewelry and fashion accessories re-purposed from La Chureca itself and the artisanal small batch coffee and special surprises, AND the personal hand-crafted and hand-signed one-of-a-kind gift from the Lopez family) PLUS Michael Dominic will come to you in your home (or other destination) with the first cut of the film, to meet, greet and speak with you about the film and screen it for you and up to 15 of your friends. (Note: there is no cost of travel for Michael for any screening in the NY area, but costs of travel in other areas may apply. Subject to mutual scheduling, of course.)

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    Pledge $2,750 or more About $2,750

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

    You receive everything from the $260 level (2 VIP tickets to the LA or NY Premiere - travel not included - in our group), PLUS credit as an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, which will go onto IMDb, as well as the film's end credits. You also get periodic private status reports by email from the producer with the inside scoop on progress. Thanks for being a big supporter and part of our team.

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    Pledge $3,750 or more About $3,750

    CO-PRODUCER

    You receive everything from the $260 level (2 VIP tickets to the LA or NY Premiere - travel not included - in our group), PLUS credit as a CO-PRODUCER, which will go onto IMDb, as well as the film's end credits. You also get periodic private status reports by email with the inside scoop on progress, a dedicated one on one phone call with Michael about the film and its progress. Thanks for being a huge supporter and so much a part of our team.

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    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    You receive everything from the $260 level (2 VIP tickets to the LA or NY Premiere - travel not included - in our group), PLUS credit as an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, which will go onto IMDb, as well as the film's end credits. You also get periodic private status reports by email from the producer with the inside scoop on progress, a one on one call with Michael sharing progress on the film, AND an invitation to visit the edit facility and enjoy lunch with the team. Thanks for being a gigantic supporter and integral part of our team.

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Funding period

- (44 days)