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Our History

2001, Ciudad Refugio legally constituted in Medellín, Colombia. Born out of the need to offer a solution to the problems that have marked Colombia for decades: family violence, forced displacement, lack of government assistance, drug addiction and internal armed conflict. In this context, the foundation set out to provide immediate and effective humanitarian aid to those who do not have access to government coverage and require a light of hope.

After being constituted in 2001, the foundation initiated its work in the funeral section of Medellin, working with homeless men and implementing its first residential men’s recovery program.

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Our photo album

The Beginnings

A Personal Account by Douglas Calvano

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Timeline

1993

Pastor Douglas Calvano arrived on the streets of Medellin with a one-way ticket from Times Square Church. Together with a small group of volunteers he begins ministering to Medellin’s population of homeless and displaced. 

1994-1997

Pastor Douglas serves as youth pastor in a local church.

1994 – 1998

Pastor Douglas partnered with local recovery programs and churches as he ministered on Medellin city streets serving the homeless, addicted and displaced.

1997

Pastor Douglas marries Marilu Alvarez

1997

Pastor Douglas returns to the United States to work for a year in Pennsylvania to fund the ministry in Colombia.

1998

The first group of short-term missionaries arrives from Times Square Church to support the work.

1998 – 2000

The first Colombian missions team trained and sent from Colombia to Russia.

1998 – 2000

Working on the streets with homeless and addicts in partnership with Centro Día (a government facility lent to Pastor Douglas after the government observed his work on the streets).

2000

Ciudad Refugio legally constituted in Medellín, Colombia.  

2001

Programs initiated in the funeral section of Medellin, working with homeless men and launching the first men’s residential recovery program.

2002

Pastor Douglas and Marilu adopt Juan Marcos Calvano.

2003

The launch of women’s ministry program and formation of the first cell of the church. 

2004

The first shelter for displaced families was opened.

2004

Women’s shelter and recovery program launched.

2005

The first donation of meat and vegetable donations from a store in Robledo (the donation continues to this day).

2005

Purchase of new property in Prado Centro, Medellin for use with displaced families and planned future construction. 

2006

Pastor Douglas and Marilu adopt Maria Luisa.

2006

Current shelter/drug program building (garage) was sold by the owner.  Pastor Douglas starts construction of new building using 30 homeless and addicted men as laborers.

2007

Farm in San Pedro de los Milagros is purchased. 

2008

Completion of the new building, ribbon cutting ceremony (August) and first water baptism at the farm.

2008

All existing Ciudad Refugio programs moved to new location, being housed together under one roof for the first time.  

2010

The first feeding program for kids sponsored by ChildCry in New York City. 

2010

The bakery launched (the first income generating initiative of Ciudad Refugio).

2012

The first mobile dental and health clinic implemented in Medellin and Planeta Rica.

2012

Launch of Manos que Obran program (Hands that Work), an income generating and training project designed to develop manual labor partnerships with local businesses in Medellin.

2012

Ciudad de los Niños (City of Children) program launch serving children from at-risk communities in Medellin y Planeta Rica

2013

Casa de Refugio Christian church established to meet the spiritual needs of program participants, families, and those in the local community.

2013

Ciudad Refugio farm sold and funds are utilized to purchase adjacent building for ministry expansion

2013

Relationship with Fricar (a local meat packing company) established, leading to ongoing donations of meat, a recycling program, and jobs for individuals graduating from the recovery programs 

2014

Feeding programs expanded to include 5 locations. 

2014

HappySchooling program launched, a Christian homeschool program for kids with challenges in traditional learning environments.

2014

Partnership developed with Worldwide Volunteers in Germany facilitating one-year volunteer service projects for Colombian and German youth.

2014

Partnership developed with Adventures in Missions, Ciudad Refugio begins receiving youth missionaries through the World Race program. 

2015

Ciudad Refugio adopts children’s outreach project in Manantiales, Colombia´s second largest camp of internally displaced persons.

2016

First bus purchased to accommodate children’s ministry, missions and church needs.

2016

Ciudad Refugio begins to operate local school routes as an income generating initiative.  

2017

Second bus purchased.

2017

Children’s program expansion to include more than 400 kids weekly.

2017

Program launched to begin working with women and families in Manantiales.

2018

Planned demolition and construction launch of new building (projected parking for the foundation’s vehicles, auditorium for meetings and workshops, church expansion space, housing for volunteers, basic care center for physical and psycho-social care, training rooms and administrative offices).

Ways to get involved

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Come volunteer with us! Join individuals and groups from around the world signing-up to make a difference.

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Give financially and make a direct difference in the lives of vulnerable men, women, children and families.

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