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 knew it was going to be a challenging task. The Smiles Foundation’s own Chief Executive, who has overseen so many significant projects in Romania, will continue to personally oversee the process of completing the building according to the up to date legal Authorisations we can expect to secure.
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 was needed.
We anticipated up to £100,000 ($130,000) 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 endeavouring 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.
Raising the support needed has been a significant challenge but we had plenty of volunteers to help with the work. After discussing with professional advisors, the possible options for functioning, we got on with the work and planned to finish before winter 2019.
The financial support came through Donations and Fund-Raising activities. 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. Dezna required the same level of vision and commitment but God was in it, so we could not fail.
Smiles Supporters are incredible when we have a vision, and we were overwhelmed as people heard of Dezna and visited during Mission Trips, how the excitement grew, finance flowed, and miracles were once again evident.
In addition to our regular Mission Trips, we were able to host specially focused Trips for work at Dezna. Professional skills of builders, plumbers, electricians, finishers, painters and such like were all needed.
The Dezna Outreach project has tremendous potential; to unlock it we need many to continue sharing the vision and get involved. Let’s not miss the opportunity to reach out to the lost and needy through the Dezna Outreach Centre.
The Construction and Renovation Budget ended up exceeding our original expectations, by as much as 50%. Largely due to hidden problems within the building only coming to light as work was started. Also, as the project started to take shape, so we knew more equipment was needed for the potential activities to be successful. We did not want to limit the potential, so with final bills still coming in, we anticipate the final cost will be £150,000 ($195,000).
As a result of the Special Dezna Gift Day held on the Official Opening Weekend, £30,000 ($39,000) was raised leaving just £20,000 ($26,000) to cover to clear the entire costs of the Project Phase One.
To make a donation now and support the final needs of the Building Fund for Dezna.