The Long Journey Home

 In Community Development, Youth Development Program

By Monica | Ciudad Refugio Program Recipient – Manantiales

We arrived to El Pinar 13 years ago from Yolombó, Colombia – my husband and I and our then four children (we now have five).  We didn’t know anything about the community and we were not displaced, we just knew that it was cheap to live here and to be honest we really didn´t have any other option.  We found a plot and when my husband began to work we started to build.

The most difficult thing about this community is the drugs and the challenge of trying to raise a family.  I live in front of a soccer field where drugs are bought and sold 24 hours a day.  It is very difficult to raise children here, especially boys, it is a miracle of God that my son escaped this path.  In this community, if you see a child here 9, 10, 11, 12 years on the street, the majority are already working in the drug business.

We learned quickly how to survive here, you have to know how to guard your eyes and your mouth.  And never leave your house at night.

When I first arrived in El Pinar with my husband I went to Medellin to visit a friend who was sleeping in a shelter.  That shelter was run by Douglas and Marilu Calvano.  I started assisting in the church that they had at the time.  When my friend left the shelter, I also stopped coming down to Medellin and stopped attending church.  That was 14 years ago…

Then, two years ago, my son came home one day and said that there were some Saturday activities for kids and youth being held in the field and could he attend, I said yes.  He continued every Saturday and then came a few months later and asked if he could have permission to spend the weekend in Medellin with the foundation that sponsored the Saturday activities. This provoked me as a mother to learn more about the foundation and who was running it.  As I was asking my son for more information he mentioned the Pastor, whose name was Douglas, and his wife Marilu who were leading the church and foundation.  Instantly I remembered and realized it was the same Pastor Douglas and Marilu that ran the shelter and church where I had been involved years early.

Soon after they offered my son the opportunity to move into the foundation to study and be discipled.  I also began to hear about a bible study forming in the community being led by Doña Nena a relative of Pastor Douglas and Marilu who I also knew as she had been a cook at the time that I was involved with the ministry.

Coming back to the foundation for me has been coming back to the Lord.  I had allowed my life to take another path, pursuing the things of the world, but after many years the Lord brought me home.

I love Ciudad Refugio and through the church I am now accomplishing my dream of establishing my house over the rock.  It has always been my desire to build a strong home for my family.  Looking back I can see that God has always been there, has always been waiting for me and that He continued taking care of me and providing for me even when I was far from him.

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