This ministry began in 2006 as several missionaries attended a conference centered around orphan care and children’s homes in Guatemala. One of the round table discussions was centered on how to provide women the resources they need to keep their families together, and prevent children from ending up in institutions. These individual involved in this discussion recognized the great struggles of Guatemalan women due to the poverty, lack of education, and culture of abuse and trafficking in which they live. Out of these discussions, the need for a shelter for abused women became evident. By giving women in abusive situations a safe refuge and the support they need to start over, these women find healing in Christ, and their children are able to remain with their mothers.
The ministry began by working with individual families in crisis, providing emergency housing, medical assistance, educational scholarships, and home building, in an effort to improve family stability and success and to break generational cycles of poverty and abuse.
In 2008 Emmanuel’s Heart International partnered with El Refugio to open the doors of a women’s abuse shelter in Guatemala City. In 2012, El Refugio was able to purchase property, and reopened the home at a new site. Since opening it’s doors, El Refugio has assisted hundreds of women and their children in offering shelter, counseling, legal services, discipleship, medical and dental care, educational opportunities and job training.