After summer ...
The most important
event this past month was of course the school starting again. We have
well over 250 children across Smiles Projects that are back to school
now and all of them need our support, one way or another. We believe
strongly that education will make a difference in their lives, for now
and especially for the future. Another important thing is that all of
our projects are now going through an assessment and analysis, to see
what can be improved, what families or individuals need to be
encouraged to move on and what new people are in need for our support.
Also, there is a lot of administrative work that needs to be done –
getting the licences from the authorities for our projects to be
approved to operate is always a very tedious and long process and the
project managers are certainly busy with paperwork!
summer time is now over, school holidays finished and children are
back to school. The busy mission trip season has ended too and most of
the Smiles team is now back to more regular work, but with the added
responsibility of putting together all the paperwork needed for
getting the approval for our services. We also need to go through the
entire list of beneficiaries, for making the proper assessments on
progress and suitability and need for continued support.
This is never an easy
task, as we need to decide, in many different and complicated
situations, what is the best next step. We might need to take
difficult decisions, but at the same time we know it is in the best
interest of our beneficiaries and important for our supporters. We do
not achieve much if we make people "addicted" to Smiles support –
rather we are trying to help them move on once the support from us has
been adequately given, in such a way that they will become independent
and they will be able to have a proper life and they will develop as a
family or individual into a stronger position than before. Anyway, all
of these issues are part of our job and it is part of the progress
that we need to see as a result of what we are doing.
probably today you will not read in my report about the most exciting,
interesting and emotional aspects of Smiles work, but I wanted to
share with you also this part of our work, which is of course more on
the administrative and numbers side.
In the last five years
for instance, in the Family Care project, we have taken in
approximately sixty new families, this allows for numerous requests to
receive a positive answer. We have had many others that could not be
addressed, but we tried to respond to the greatest needs in the best
way we could. Not only have we taken new families in our programme,
but whole communities too. It is the case of course with Cuiesd, Tulca
and Rapa Gypsy Communities, alongside "older" contacts in Salard and
It was and still is,
very difficult to only say "yes" to one or two families in a village
where everything is a huge, screaming need for help! And people are
equally poor, equally hungry, children are equally cute but equally
sad… But at the same time, we have allowed some to continue their life
without our support. For more than 90 families from the Family Care
Project alone we stopped the formal support in these past five years,
but for many we continued our occasional support, as their situation
did not improve as much as was needed. We have had disabled people
that needed our help to continue as they cannot survive by themselves.
The same thing with many elderly who could not move into our Care
Homes and therefore still needed our presence in their own home.
In the Homeless
Programme, since its start in October 2011, there were more than
250 families or individuals that we have helped. Given the specifics
of the project, many of these people spend a while with us, then move
on, and sometimes, they come back again. Not only have we tried to
find a long-term solution for them, just as in the Family Care
strategy, but we have also helped them with providing very immediate
support, with food and shelter. The homeless people are difficult to
deal with. Many have no physical belongings with them when they come,
but they definitely have huge emotional baggage to contend with. Their
behaviour is sometimes anti-social, in many cases we are also facing
mental and intellectual challenges with them … But we are happy we
could offer them the proper attention and support. Another important
group are those living on the streets – a very volatile area of our
work, where numbers are going up and down from one day to another. But
we’ve helped a lot also in this urgent area of need.
The latest assessments
at the Emergency Housing Unit shows that about 45 mothers and
their children were supported in the last five years. A tremendous
need in Bihor county, for which Smiles provides the only shelter, for
a population of about 600,000. The victims of domestic abuse, for whom
this project was meant, have little chances to overcome their problem
without help and we are happy to know that our intervention, in their
time of trouble, is making the difference!
To very briefly
mention the school too, as the new school year just begun, in the last
years we had many children from various projects that were enrolled in
or continued their school programmes in various capacities. Of course
the Tileagd School is the major one, but also children and
young adults from Gepiu, Salard, Homeless and Family Care
projects decided to continue their education. This by itself is a
great achievement we believe, because it is the first step to actually
do it. The fact that we have got from Salard only 8 or 9 in school or
nursery, but also 3 adults that are now following second-chance
programmes, it’s a very positive sign that we are very excited about.
Yes, after summer
there is a time of assessment and realisation how much Smiles means
for people and will continue to make significant differences for as
long as we exist. The Calling we have answered to will drive us on and
God will continue to provide for it.
Thank you also for
your support for Smiles, for the great commitment and generosity!