In 1999 the war in Kosova hit the headline news. Appalled by pictures that flashed across the TV screens, the world’s aid agencies sprang into action to help with the refugee crisis. At that time Rev Clive Doubleday was a Minister at a Baptist Church in Kent, and he 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. It was not long before all the church pews were full of sorted and labelled black sacks. Clive then contacted a local organisation and asked them if they would like the aid to take to Kosova, but they were unable to help, so Clive and Ruth, and their two children, Emily (aged 12) and Tim (aged 7), decided to take the aid themselves.
After several telephone calls, two trucks were obtained, one of which was kindly loaned by a local gas company, Transco, with full insurance cover and full breakdown and recovery.
On 26 May at 6am, the Doubleday family set off from Kent to Macedonia. Ruth and Emily were in one lorry, and Clive and Tim were in the other. 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. The charity was registered in March 2000.