Camps & Retreats at Dezna : –
After nearly 3 years of working through the challenges presented in Dezna, it was thrilling in 2019 to officially Open the Dezna Outreach Centre in Arad County, Romania. Renovated to the highest standard for Camps and Retreats, our prayer is to see the facility used in a mighty way for Children and Youth to experience the ‘mountain top’ joy of new life in Christ. The facility will also be used for Church Retreats and Conferences and we trust the entire project will be a powerful extension to the Outreach endeavours of the Church and the Smiles Foundation.
The STORY of Dezna:
Launched in 2018, Dezna Outreach Centre is the first Project of the Smiles stable to be located in a different County to Bihor. Dezna is in the County of Arad.
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 fulfil 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, was personally involved with every aspect to see an ultimate successful conclusion. 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 wanted to see Outreach and Sharing the Gospel Message as a key factor to the Project.
The Smiles Foundation envisaged the facility providing activities in the following areas:
1. Youth Camps
2. Conference & Retreat Centre
3. Residential facilities for Life Skill Training & Care
4. Support services for disabled people.
Raising the support needed was 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 Glasshouse and the major facilities in Cihei – not forgetting Gepiu, Mierlau, Boga and many other 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 experienced. 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 put to work with great affect.
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 the final bills presented an investment of £150,000 ($195,000).
Through God’s provision, all was done and ready for the Great Weekend planned for the Official Opening of Dezna on weekend of September 28th/29th, 2019 !
Some land at the site was yet to be developed and after various thoughts and proposals, it was decided to develop the site to enhance facilities for OUTDOOR activities for the CAMPS which have been so well received in the Opening Year of 2019.
With an anticipated investment of approximately £50,000 ($65,000) we will continue planning the development of outdoor activities for the Camp to reach more young people in need of God’s Love and Saving Grace. See the Camp Video from 2019.
To support the next Phase in development at Dezna Camps –
Donate here or contact the office: firstname.lastname@example.org
The OUTREACH PILLAR and associated projects are under the leadership of Smiles Assistant Director – Adi Matis.
Working within Smiles since 2009, Adi has a heart dedicated to the Smiles ministry and has gathered great experience in dealing with the issues and demands of managing important aspects of people, logistics and finance.
Being Office Manager at the busy Cihei HQ also provides understanding to share the Vision that drives the Foundation forward day by day.