Our Refuge| Women’s Shelter

 In Community Development, Humanitarian Aid

By : Merlin M. | Volunteer

As part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, Ciudad Refugio has started a temporary shelter for women in need.  We are pleased to share how God miraculously brought the following mother and daughter to the foundation, and allowed us the opportunity to serve them. 

Yurany, age 33, and her daughter Cristina, age 16, are from the town of Zaragoza, Antioquia;  a region about eight hours outside of Medellin, by bus.   They lived on a small ranch and Yurany sold meat to make a living.  It was always just the two of them together and they lived a happy and content life; with the little they had.  However, this idealistic life soon changed.  

As is the custom in many regions of Colombia, neighborhoods are under the control of gang leaders.  They use various tactics to maintain an atmosphere of fear and intimidation over the people.  As was the case with Yurany and Cristina, the gang leader of their area demanded that they pay money to be left alone from threats and intimidation.  For some time Yurany and Cristina were able to make the payments as the gang demanded; but soon they ran out of cash.  When this happened, Yurany’s step father offered to loan her some money to bring some fish from the coastal region so she could sell it and make more income.  However, during the transport of the food items to their ranch, a militia group confiscated all the fish.  Yurany was left with nothing and no way to pay the gang leaders.  

During this same time, Cristina began to have issues with her health. Also, as an attractive young woman; Yurany feared that Cristina would be forced to join either a gang or militia group.  All these factors combined, forced mother and daughter to flee the only home they knew and travel eight hours by bus to Medellin.  When they arrived in Medellin, they had some money, but in seeking the medical attention that Cristina needed; it all ran out and they were left on the streets with nowhere to live. 

Yurany and Cristina found a place to stay in a homeless shelter and they spent the months of national quarantine there.  However, at the end of the lockdown, they were told that they could no longer stay in the shelter. During this time, they met a Venezulan man who worked at a hotel.  He offered to pay their rent for a couple of days and another woman who worked at the hotel gave them food. Yurany was able to procure some money that the government offers as assistance for displaced people.  But one day, while on the street looking for work; she was robbed and lost it all.  A few days later, they were asked to leave the hotel. At this time, Yurany and Cristina were truly optionless.  They spent 5-6 days on the streets, in a truly hopeless state.  They had lost everything and were at the end of their rope.  They heard of a shelter in the city that was for indigenous people and walked there seeking assistance but were turned away.  They walked the streets hopeless and desperate.  

After a week on the streets that had an encounter that only God could have orchestrated.  They met a man, who they described as being: “tall, bearded, and with a kind disposition.”  He asked what they were doing and when he heard their predicament, he mentioned they should go to Ciudad Refugio.  He had previously been in the drug restoration program and told them that Ciudad Refugio would listen and help them.  

As a last attempt to find refuge, Yurany and Cristina came to the Ciudad Refugio and asked for help.  They were welcomed with open arms and given shelter, food, and more importantly, hope.  As for the future, Yurany hopes to find work to create a stable home for Cristina.  By the grace of God, in spite of all the chaos, Cristina has been able to keep up with her schoolwork and is currently in the 10th grade. 

After spending two weeks living in Ciudad Refugio’s  womens’ shelter, Yurany and Cristina received government funds allowing them to pursue other opportunities.  We are encouraged to have provided a place of refuge for them during their time with us.  We pray we were able to show the love of God through not only in our words but also through our actions.  

Please continue to uphold this endeavor in your prayers! We truly believe the work is the Lord’s and we are only the instruments He chooses to use! 

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