I love autumn! I love the colours that nature presents us! God’s creation is amazing!
As with the leaves, we humans are the same! We have different colours! But we are ALL amazing in His eyes!
I often think of Smiles as a place with lots of trees (the projects) and leaves (the people). Together we are a big strong forest :). Why do I say that? Because Smiles helps month by month over 1,000 people through the projects we have! Some have been with us for 18 years, some for 10 years, some for just months or a week! Many move on because they have progressed, some leave because they choose to, some will never go because they are dependent on us!
The good news is that many people who we have helped over the years moved on because they progressed. Our concern is, not to allow the progress people make, to overlook the need for them to be more independent. Not to become ‘dependent’ on us when they really don’t need to be. Of course sadly, some people will always choose others to care for them as an easier option to doing so themselves. This is unfortunately the case with Angela and Gusti family!
Angela and Gusti were part of The Smiles Foundation Homeless project for a long time. Since we changed the structure of the project they were moved to our Emergency Housing Unit for a while and then to a rented house in Oradea. Because Gusti works in a full-time job, earning a good salary, more than some Smiles employees earn in a month, the Smiles Field Team decided that it was time for them to step up and be more independent! On September 19th, our Field Project Manager Adi went to Angela and Gusti to tell them that and pay the last £50/$65 that we had contributed to their rent, month by month, for the previous 6 months.
Now they have moved to a different rented home as their previous landlord sold the property. They also recently got married! We wish them God’s blessing and trust they come to know the only ONE that truly provides everything! Of course there was always a danger others would pick up where we stopped. That defeats our hope of encouraging people to become more independent, but these things are beyond our control. We, in Smiles, must do what we believe is right and best for a beneficiary, even if sometimes, they don’t agree.
We’ve been honoured to help Angela and Gusti, along with so many others over many years. We trust God to continue enabling us to help many more in the years to come, especially those who really need our help. Sadly there are many such people, even 28 years after the Revolution, 11 years after joining the EU – still too many impoverished people cry out for our help.
With obvious limitations on how many we can help, our recent emphasis has been taking the difficult and sometimes ‘unpopular’ decision of ceasing support for people who can be independent (if they try a little harder) and direct our support to new families who truly need a little help to get started on the road to independence in life.
Another case is Haias family! This time a family who were dependent on us but they chose to leave, largely due to not respecting anything of what we try to teach them. In 2002, Smiles purchased a house in Cetariu with 2 buildings in the same yard. A nice little place, great accommodation for 2 families! In 2004 Haias family moved there. We took them from the streets of Oradea as they had been evicted from their home. The main rule we asked them to respect was to keep the place clean, and be respectful to the house and the neighbours and the result would be that they can live there “happily ever after”!
For the last 14 years, all our social workers, construction teams, leadership of the Smiles Foundation, not only told them HOW to do it but often they DID the cleaning for them time and time again! I decided this month it was the last time I do that and I do not have enough words to say thank you to the people who got their hands dirty with this and helped me! Trust me, it was BAD!
So, with the family gone, a Mission Team became true ‘servants’ and helped me clean the place for the last time. I was really happy as this time the house had to be demolished because it became so bad, it could not be lived in anymore! Someone told us they moved to Oradea in a rented house. We are happy for them. We hope they will respect their new place better than they did ours!
When I look at ‘the tree’ that I have in Tileagd – School, Nursery and Community I’m happy to see it is getting stronger and stronger. Yes I have “leaves” that fall down and we can’t do much about it, but I’m happy when I see progress made even if it’s small. I can’t believe we already have half-term holiday! You heard correct – One week holiday! Some of the kids did not want that and they find it hard. Some of them are happy. To be honest, I understand the ones that are sad because in nursery and school it can be the only time when they have a hot meal, proper food, shower, clean clothes and LOTS OF LOVE!!!!
I was overwhelmed when this past month I had a group of a young people on a mission trip. They had a lot of energy and that was amazing when I feel that I’m getting old! But more important than the energy was their love and passion for the kids in Romania. On the last day of their visit, they asked me to go to the mission centre because they had a gift for me. I imagined a box of chocolate or maybe even a child sponsored. But when I saw 12 kids sponsored for a year I was SHOCKED!!!! GOD is so good all the time and He uses young, old – all ages to SHOW THAT!!!! I’m really happy as the need is always there.
Another ‘tree’ is in Rapa and I’m really proud to see the care that Alina is taking there. When I asked her to tell me something special that happened this past month there she told me: “The Roma community in Rapa believes it has evolved well lately, with just few exceptions. Children are all attending school, adults are more involved in household affairs. Domestic violence and family aggression are close to zero. Smiles will have a meeting with the social worker of Tinca village to discuss the possibility of adult involvement in the community work program which we believe would be a positive development as almost all families now receive social assistance from the State. As they prove they can cope with such a responsibility so their acceptance within the broader community will grow. It can even be a good exercise for them to have a more stable schedule in their life. At this time we are pleased with progress in Rapa and thank people for their support.”
So my dear friends, in God’s Kingdom we are ALL trees. It’s important for us to be the type of tree that produces good fruit year by year and when the autumn comes and our leaves are fallen, to make sure that we are ready for spring! Because as long as we are IN HIM, we will flourish again!
Thanks for your tremendous support for all we try to do for the Romanian people.
Be blessed and stay strong in everything you do!
Director of Operations, Smiles Romania