Welcome to my update on life and work within the Smiles Foundation. We always have so much happening it is hard to know how much detail to share with you month by month. I sometimes feel I maybe sharing too much but then the response I receive from folk suggests there are many of you interested in all the detail and those who are not so much for the ‘ins and outs’ of everything, can gloss over to matters of more interest to you.
I was very encouraged last month to have a couple of responses to the slightly unusual news of the request we had received for providing a facility for Piglets resting on their journey across Europe to Russia. As a result of those responses, we are pressing ahead with rebuilding our Pig Barn at the Farm whilst we continue negotiations with the Hungarian company to see if an agreement can be reached. The construction will not be in vain either way, as we already had plans to extend our Bulb Growing facilities, so if the Piglets don’t come – 100,000 extra bulbs will. We are determined to continue our efforts of improving the Self-Sustainability of Smiles into the future and so I am grateful we have supporters who share that same vision.
I am also thankful for the response to date with helping us meet the demands on Fire Upgrades. As a result of your support, we have now finished the £5,000 ($6,500) JFL upgrade and will be submitting our application to receive all the official approvals required. Now we have the bigger challenge of the Tileagd Complex for which we have been quoted £10,000 ($13,000). We have a month to instigate the work so please pray with us to have the resources made available to get this legally important upgrade completed.
Our focus has been on many areas of the ministry these past weeks, but a few areas have been high priority for discussion and decisions. One such exciting development has been the new Field Project that will include Family Care, Homeless, Emergency Housing, and several of our key communities such as Rapa, Salard, Cuiesd and Tulca.
Discussions with the State were very important as we endeavoured to move away from purely Social Care and Provision, which I believe is more of the State’s responsibility – allowing us to concentrate on Ministry needs and Outreach opportunities. Seeing over the years the growing burden of overhead expenses within these projects, was causing me great concern that less and less was available for the front-line ministry to those in need. Much too great a share of the budget each month was spent on staff obligations for Authorised Projects and Utilities to operate which was leaving less and less each month for the people we sought to serve.
Homeless Project was a prime example. A monthly budget of £2,616 ($3,400) saw 71% spent on Staff Salaries, Vehicle costs and Utilities. Leaving 29% or £758 ($985) for the Homeless beneficiaries. I well appreciate workers need their salary and a vehicle to do their job – but we were funding a Project Manager, Social Worker, Doctor, Psychologist, Night Warden and Cleaner, plus monthly utilities and maintenance costs of £1,000 ($1,300).
I am very pleased the Smiles reputation and relationship with the authorities provided a good opportunity to discuss how we could better structure the work in partnership with them and the outcome so far is very exciting indeed. We will continue those discussions and hope that within a month or so, we’ll have a much better project to operate allowing the limited resources available to better impact the people who need our help.
We have enough of a plan for the new Field Project to have started advertising the need for the key personnel who will manage the project. Please pray with us as the adverts go out that God’s chosen person for the Manager’s role and the Social Worker will be drawn to us and during interviews next month we will know the right people for the work when we meet them.
Part of the new project will be the Rapa Community which we have committed significant investment to in recent years. Progress is being seen and we thank God for that. Our community worker, Alina Miclea, is achieving good progress through the education support for the children. We have seen an increase in school attendance which is encouraging and Alina was recently able to start teaching adults to sew which we hope will lead to some creative efforts and even a small Craft Project might develop.
I am delighted that we have set the week for building the final Rapa House. May 5th – 12th 2018. Part of a Spring Special Mission Trip we currently have a small team building that house for the remaining family in need of a home. That family are 4 months pregnant with their first child and are desperate to have their home before the baby arrives. If you can join the team let us know as soon as possible and to help with the cost of building the final house – send your gift marked ‘Rapa Final House’. We need about £6,000 ($7,800) to complete the job.
Rebeca Mariscas our Social Worker at the Joint Facility of Love is doing a fantastic job throughout the facility. Not only with the Elderly residents, but also the Disability Wing which is now operating weekly.
Your support is making the difference, but as we increase the activities, so the costs rise – so please don’t stop supporting whether monthly giving, special fund-raising or one-off gifts when you can. Smiles designates every gift according to your wishes, so just stipulate what your gift is to support and it will be designated accordingly.
If you really don’t mind because all the work is so beneficial to so many people – mark your gift for WMN (Where Most Needed).
A lot of activities now exist side by side in Tileagd. At the wonderful complex we have the Tileagd Assisted Living facility with new Social Worker Diana Caba. Resident numbers are rising also as we nudge closer to 30 served by sixteen staff, plus 4 security men who look after the place 24 hours a day.
The School and Nursery are also busy places every day, providing vital education for predominantly the Gypsy Community. Monica Chis-Pop is doing an excellent job directing the Nursery operation. Geta continues to coordinate everything at the Complex with passion and experience.
It’s amazing to think we celebrate this year, 10 years in June since the Grand Opening of the £1million ($1.5million) Complex and Smiles doesn’t like to miss a chance to ‘party’. So, from June onwards throughout all 2018 Mission Trips – we’ll be having a special celebration for our 10 year anniversary at the Tileagd Complex.
If you want to join the party, be sure to have booked your Mission Trip between June and December 2018. Many trips are already busy so don’t leave it too long. And – if you were a Tileagd Dreamer back in the days of supporting the huge construction project – you will get an extra 10% discount off the trip as our ‘thank-you’ 10 years on!
One new trip that has been added to the schedule is a Pastor/Leader Trip scheduled September 24th – 29th 2018. Smiles Trustee, Mike Wildsmith will be leading the trip, specially focused on ‘Engaging the Church in Missions’. Attendance is by ‘Invitation only’ – so if you know a Pastor/Leader who has never experienced a Smiles Mission Trip, drop me a line with details and if possible, we’ll extend an invitation. Numbers are very limited for this trip.
Based on 2018 support to date, the top 3 needs are as follows:
1. Residential Care and this month the Joint Facility of Love – Disability Wing which achieved 70% of the income for its operational budget. Therefore approximately £2,509 ($3,263) budget deficit in January. Support Residential Care
2. Tileagd School & Nursery achieved 42% income for its operational budget. Approximately £4,000 ($5,200) budget deficit in January. This was due to the State not making its agreed payment while the government sort out their own Budget demands. Meanwhile, we need to keep the project going! Support School and Nursery
3. Gepiu Community Project achieved 35% income for its operational budget. Approximately £1,667 ($2,167) budget deficit in January. Support Gepiu
January is always a difficult month. All our projects need continuous support, but if you would like to start a commitment or make a special gift – please consider these needs to help reduce or eliminate future deficits.
I’ve been very concerned in recent weeks to hear the news of so much appalling behaviour by some of the largest charities around the world, many of them receiving huge funds from the Government and other International Organisations. Whilst I always dream of Smiles getting bigger so as to help and support more people, I must admit recently I was thankful we are still small enough to have control, awareness and accountability in every area of our work.
One aspect that delights me is that our Mission Trip programme not only provides people the opportunity of short-term ‘hands-on’ service trips but also a firsthand experience for them to see exactly what the Smiles Foundation does on the ground, in country. How our staff operate, and how our beneficiaries are treated and appreciate all we do for them. Smiles does not receive Government Aid but we do rely on individual generosity and love for those less fortunate than ourselves. Please continue to support us and encourage others to do the same. As someone said to me recently, ‘With the Smiles Foundation – you always know where the money goes.‘
A small insight into what is happening on the ground in Romania comes this month from Maria and Georgi, with Barbara keeping us informed of Support in the UK. Take time to read their reports and it should answer a few of your questions until you come to Romania and see things for yourself.
In closing this month, I want to acknowledge the life of Dr Billy Graham who recently had his final wish granted of going to meet his Lord. What an incredible life and example for us all on how to love, serve and demonstrate the person of Jesus to a hurting world.
I thank God for Billy Graham and pray I will learn so much more from his life and example of sharing the Truth of the Gospel. He preached the importance of truth, the Truth and for sure we need to keep telling the story so the entire world knows the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. So help us God.
Thank you for your continued love and support. Keep in touch and I hope to see you soon.
Chief Executive to
The Smiles Foundation