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Launched in 2018, Dezna Outreach Centre is the newest Project to enter the Smiles stable of activities. It was initially the vision of UK Charity ‘Torch Trust’ who wanted ‘Casa Torch’ (Torch House) to be a facility supporting disabled children with particular concern for the blind and partially sighted. They began in 1996 by establishing a Romanian charity ‘Dezna Torch’ and by coordinating with a group of like-minded Romanians from the village of Dezna, began to build the Centre with the hope of beginning activities.
Unfortunately, the task became too much for the local group and Torch Trust could no longer manage the project given the distance from the UK. After 20 years of trying and with endless disappointments, Torch Trust UK contacted The Smiles Foundation to see if we could share that original vision, take over the project to complete the building and ensure activities started as soon as possible.
With significant funds invested yet no official authorisations received, Torch Trust wanted to secure support from within Romania to finish the project. Unfortunately, after 20 years, the building had deteriorated and combined with bad winter weather along with no maintenance or repair work being undertaken, a challenging situation had developed.
Basically, the building was in a very bad state of repair and faced complex legal issues with laws changing so fundamentally over the years, securing authorisations was going to be a very challenging task.
In 2016, Torch Trust UK approached The Smiles Foundation to see if we thought we could salvage the project, complete the construction of the building, deal with the legal aspects of Authorisation and ultimately secure the ‘Approvals to Function’ and see activities organised that would bring Glory to God.
After a further two years of complex legal issues, matters were finally resolved in June 2018 for the original Dezna Torch foundation to be taken within The Smiles Foundation along with the land and buildings – with a commitment by Smiles to do everything possible to fulfill the original vision of the Torch Trust Charity.
We know it is going to be a challenging task. Our own CEO who has overseen so many significant projects in Romania through Smiles will continue to personally oversee the process of completing the building according to the legal Authorisations we can expect to secure today.
Smiles immediately got to work and in July 2018 took the first team of 20 people to Dezna to work on clearing the wilderness on the land, totally clean the building and assess urgent repair work that is needed.
We anticipate up to £100,000 ($140,000) needed to complete the building to current building regulations for a variety of activities to be approved. We want to see Outreach and Sharing the Gospel Message as a key factor to the Project. The Smiles Foundation is proposing to secure Authorisation in the following areas:
1. Residential facilities for Life Skill Training & Care
2. Summer Youth Camps
3. Conference & Retreat Centre
4. Support services for disabled people.
5. Cultivate Working Partnerships with other organisations meeting the needs of disabled people.
Subject to raising the support needed and having plenty of volunteers to help, we believe, after discussing with professional advisors the possible options for functioning, we could get on with the work with a plan to finish before winter 2019. This will take a lot of financial support, whether through Project Donations or Fund-Raising activities. But Smiles supporters have raised millions in the past for building Tileagd Community Complex, JFL Care Home, the Farm and Glasshouse and the major facilities in Cihei – not forgetting Gepiu, Mierlau, Boga and many other significant projects.
The Smiles Supporters are incredible when we have a vision, and we believe as people hear of Dezna and visit during Mission Trips, so the excitement will build and miracles will once again be seen.
In addition to our regular Mission Trips, we will be able to host specially focused Trips for work at Dezna. Professional skills will be needed – initially builders, plumbers, electricians, finishers, painters and such like. If you are interested in coming or putting a small team of skilled folk to come, please contact us directly to discuss options. Equally, to financially support the project or plan a fund-raising event, contact Kevin, Dawn at the office or Luke and we’ll give you all the support we possibly can.
This project has tremendous potential, to unlock it we need many to share the vision and get involved. Let’s not miss the opportunity to reach out to the lost and needy through the Dezna Outreach Centre.
Once advice on Authorisations to Function has been secured, more will be reported here, so check back regularly. Meanwhile, please pray for all the efforts that will be put into realising the Dezna dream and support Smiles in every way you can to meet the practical and financial targets.
To make a donation now and support the Building Fund for Dezna.