We are shocked and deeply saddened by the events happening in Ukraine right now. We cannot believe this is happening in 2022 and we stand with the Ukrainian people during this time. We think of all those affected by such violence and for everyone caught up in the atrocity of war. We pray for the nation of Ukraine, for its leaders, for those hiding and for those fleeing. We pray for those who have now found themselves as refugees, for those who have lost loved ones and for families that have been separated.

This reminds us so much of the war in Kosovo in 1999 and the reason that Smile International was started. We were appalled by pictures that flashed across the TV screens, the same as we are sadly seeing all these years later. At that time our founder Rev Clive Doubleday and his wife, Ruth, felt compelled to do something. Within a couple of days, they received an email from friends at a small Baptist Church in Skopje, Macedonia, asking if they could help them as they had so many refugees flooding into Macedonia and they couldn’t cope.

Soon word spread that Clive and Ruth were collecting aid and for several weeks they, and a team of willing volunteers, sifted through hundreds of bags full of clothes, blankets and toiletries. Clive contacted a local organisation and asked them if they would like the aid to take to Kosovo, but they were unable to help, so Clive and Ruth, and their two children, Emily and Tim, decided to take the aid themselves.

In May 1999, the Doubleday family set off from Kent to Macedonia. Eight days and 8 countries later they arrived in Macedonia and after seeing the astonishing needs of a whole nation torn apart by the atrocities of the war, they knew they had been brought there for a purpose and it was not just to distribute aid. In September 1999, Clive and Ruth concluded their ministry at their church in Kent and started a charity called Smile International to help make a difference to those in need.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ukraine and whilst Smile is not sending aid items overseas anymore, we are always open to God's plans for Smile's future work.