Smiles Field Project through the Pandemic …
Our mission at Smiles is to support people, and in the process, to help them see God’s love and to find out about His desire to have a close relationship with them. That is quite a mission and a great responsibility – equally a great honour and opportunity to actually change somebody’s perspective on life. Even eternal life we can say. So, we are trying our best to do so, despite the various difficulties that we encounter. We are blessed to have your support in this endeavour and we are grateful for it!
There is little that has gone unsaid about COVID-19 and the associated problems. The many facets of this pandemic turned everyone upside down, often in more than one way. When it all started, none of us could have anticipated the many complications that will arise in the coming months. But sure thing, soon they all started to show their ugly faces…!
With the obvious health aspects aside, one of the problems that became a huge issue was that many of our beneficiaries lost their means to provide for their families. As you know, the vast majority would only have limited options for work, and given that everything reduced drastically, of course there was little opportunity for them to work and earn. Even many of those who had regular jobs with companies have either lost their employment or have been reduced to a minimum, so suddenly a need that was there increased tenfold and we couldn’t stay relaxed about it, watching on from a more comfortable position.
We continued all through these months of pandemic to visit families, taking food, medicine and clothing to them. Often, we could only go to their place and leave the food parcel outside and after talking with them through closed doors, we would leave. Other times, like when visiting Rapa for instance, we needed to stay away and only speak to them from a distance.
These things were of course very alien to us, but even more so to them, as we are used to having kids all around us, and their parents, their cats and dogs, all in a close fellowship! It was difficult to process all of this, but we just continued to be of service, as many people that we visited were indeed in great need and we would have been the only ones to visit them at all.
In fact, we increased the number of families to help. Our colleagues encountered several new situations that we decided to do something about.
A family of four children and a father who lost their mother to cancer last year – all children go to school, one of them has some serious neurological problem; father collects scrap metal all day long; the older boy, who’s 18 is taking care of most of the domestic responsibilities. Another family who have lost their income in this period, father lost his job, mother cannot work at all as she has diabetes and a severe heart problem; their two daughters are enrolled with school and they had very good results.
All in all, there are about seven or eight new cases we took in and while I couldn’t tell you everything about them here, they are indeed in need and our support for them means a lot. We are happy to be able to assist, as these times are difficult for everyone!
We are grateful for the support we received from many specifically designated to ‘COVID-19 SUPPORT’. We have used these funds to do such work during these past months.
However, if we are to maintain our support for these families into the future, which they could certainly benefit from, we would need more Field Project Sponsors.
We ask you to consider such a sponsorship, recommending £30/$40 a month to help us meet the needs of these families. You can support monthly or with a single gift through our special page: https://www.thesmilesfoundation.org/project/family-care-and-housing/
With the Homeless programme things were even more difficult. Through the first weeks of the pandemic we were allowed to carry on and see the people as before, then we were restricted to only taking the sandwiches and whatever we could to them, but with very limited interaction. Then we could not go to visit at all, as the whole City Shelter went under quarantine lockdown. In the last weeks they relaxed the restrictions a little bit, but we still cannot go and spend time with the homeless people, as we used to. And I know how much they would want that – we need to stay hopeful that these things will change soon.
The communities were supported too – as I briefly mentioned, visiting Rapa and Tileagd was different than usual, but we still wanted to go there and provide at least some support. And sure enough, people were grateful and our support was appreciated, probably now more than ever before. We were happy to see them coming to that conclusion, that Smiles does mean a lot to them! I guess when no one else is willing to go, the spotlight on Smiles shines a little brighter.
Of course, the church meetings were also cancelled through this period, that also made us sad, and we couldn’t have any meetings with children so all the plans for COPs had to be deferred. The camps in Dezna that we prepared for and hoped to host were also cancelled. All these things are very sad, but we need to understand that some things are simply out of our control. We can only believe that God will deliver us all through these bad times and the future will be so much brighter when we will eventually be able to get back to full steam!
Meanwhile, we have many memories from this extraordinary time – and some I’ve managed to capture in the new Video – Smiles through COVID-19
I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to say how much we miss you all here and how disappointed we are with the impossibility for you to come over this summer! We know though that you love us and care for us – and for this we are so thankful! We miss the time spent together, but equally we know that seeing each other again will be so much nicer next time! We miss you visiting and getting involved hands-on with our projects, but we know there will be a next time and then we’ll try to make-up for it!
Rest assured, we are hopeful, and we say thank you to all of you. We wish you strong hearts and do not lose hope for the future!
It may sound a cliché, but please remember: “We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future!” Be encouraged by this, as we are, and keep close to God, as He is indeed the only one to trust in, who can change everything, for our best and His Glory!
Director of Outreach, Smiles Romania