It’s been a while since my last article about Gepiu Community Centre. Not at all because there isn’t anything to write about, but rather because I do not come in contact with what happens there every day. Yet, discussing with Ligia and Ioana, I realise there is a lot that has changed in recent times and then it makes sense for me to update you also on this front. The Smiles presence in Gepiu is still very important and relevant, so here is a short report on what is currently happening.
First and foremost, we serve the children through our after-school programme. You may know or will be pleased to hear that this is our long-term desire for Gepiu Community, as well as all the other communities we work in, to give a chance to all the children of school age to continue their education beyond the first four grades and to actually complete their entire education to 12th grade, but also to help them even after that, should they be willing to continue into University.Along the years there were a number of children (who turned into young adults in the meanwhile) who stayed in education and indeed now they are graduates from the University. This is an amazing result, come to think how little chances there were for them to even finish the eighth grade. Lica and Dani, two of the kids we’ve helped along the years, are both now reliable and helpful colleagues in Sminro (the Smiles Enterprise Initiative), taking care of the flower production in the glasshouse. That is really something very nice and we are grateful we could do something for them and for many others, in order to help them have a better future!Now, in the afterschool project in Gepiu we have about 25 children enrolled. These are kids that go to the local school, up to eighth grade, who then come to the centre once they finish their classes. They receive a good lunch to give them energy to face the homework. Livia (our cook) is making sure they get the best food! And because we want to make sure all aspects are covered, we also have properly trained people to assist them. Together with Ligia who is responsible for overseeing the activities at the Centre, and who is by the way a qualified maths teacher, we have Ioana the social worker who is dealing with a lot of issues personal to the children, but also Ana-Maria (a teacher) and Anca our Psychologist. All these people are helping with everything that is needed for the good of the children.
Anca the psychologist is going to the centre twice a week, while Ana Maria is going every day, she is the main support for children when they complete their homework. Less often now, but Dan is also coming to the centre, as kids are forever interested in having computer classes – which Dan helps with.The children that are older and come to high-school in Oradea are also supported and their transportation is assured, so they do not miss a day in school. This is of course very important, as it is the age at which most of the kids will start looking for jobs maybe, or simply quit the school and this prevents them often growing into a better position. Also with these we have meetings to advise and to help them with teenage issues, both personal and educational.
Another very popular programme in Gepiu continues to be the Elderly Luncheon, whereby the seniors of the community are invited to participate to a special fellowship time, with great food, uplifting singing and testimonies and encouraging words from the Bible. This is amazing and makes a wonderful testimony of Christian love among those that are in their later years and we are very happy to be able to provide this service, for the glory of God.
After a few years when we had to adjust several areas of work in Gepiu, to both comply with the legal requirements and to balance the budgets, we continue to make a difference for many children from this village, with helping and assisting them for accomplishing the very best they can. We want to say thank you for helping us with the work, for your kind support and for your prayers. Gepiu Community Centre continues to offer hope and support for the next generation, as well as for the present one.
Many blessings from God!
Assistant Director of Smiles Foundation Romania