In 2001, Ciudad Refugio was 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 required a ray 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.
A Personal Account by Douglas Calvano
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.
Pastor Douglas serves as a 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.
Pastor Douglas marries Marilu Alvarez
Pastor Douglas returns to the United States to work for a year in Pennsylvania to fund the ministry in Colombia.
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).
Ciudad Refugio legally constituted in Medellín, Colombia.
Programs initiated in the funeral section of Medellin, working with homeless men and launching the first men’s residential recovery program.
Pastor Douglas and Marilu adopt Juan Marcos Calvano.
The launch of women’s ministry program and formation of the first cell of the church.
The first shelter for displaced families was opened.
Women’s shelter and recovery program launched.
The foundation received its first donation of meat and vegetable donations from a store in Robledo (the donation continues to this day).
Purchase of new property in Prado Centro, Medellin for use with displaced families and planned future construction.
Pastor Douglas and Marilu adopt Maria Luisa.
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.
Farm in San Pedro de los Milagros is purchased.
Completion of the new building, ribbon cutting ceremony (August) and first water baptism at the farm.
All existing Ciudad Refugio programs moved to new location, being housed together under one roof for the first time.
The first feeding program for kids sponsored by ChildCry in New York City.
The bakery launched (the first income generating initiative of Ciudad Refugio).
The first mobile dental and health clinic implemented in Medellin and Planeta Rica.
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.
Ciudad de los Niños (City of Children) program launched, serving children from at-risk communities in Medellin y Planeta Rica
Casa de Refugio Christian church established to meet the spiritual needs of program participants, families, and those in the local community.
Ciudad Refugio farm sold and funds are utilized to purchase adjacent building for ministry expansion
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
Feeding programs expanded to include 5 locations.
HappySchooling program launched, a Christian homeschool program for kids with challenges in traditional learning environments.
Partnership developed with Worldwide Volunteers in Germany facilitating one-year long volunteer service projects for Colombian and German youth.
Partnership developed with Adventures in Missions, Ciudad Refugio begins receiving youth missionaries through the World Race program.
Ciudad Refugio adopts children’s outreach project in Manantiales, Colombia´s second largest camp of internally displaced persons.
First bus purchased to accommodate children’s ministry, missions and church needs.
Ciudad Refugio begins to operate local school routes as an income generating initiative.
Second bus purchased.
Children’s program expansion to include more than 400 kids weekly.
Program launched to begin working with women and families in Manantiales.
Continued planning and preparation for the planned building expansion; including obtaining the necessary permits and government inspections and approvals.
Began 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).