A simple Google search transformed the lives of Amanda Juillard, her husband Rob, and their two sons. That Google inquiry took them from the hills of Tennessee to tropical Central America. With the help of the Lord, Amanda’s Google search eventually placed Amanda and Rob in a position to transform the lives of hundreds of women and children.
“Back in 2014,” according to Amanda, “I did a Google search of my four favorite things: coffee, jewelry, Guatemala, and women’s ministries.” The resulting top match was a place called El Refugio.
El Refugio, as Amanda discovered, is a shelter for women and their children escaping abuse, trafficking and violence. El Refugio (or The Refuge) provides victims with a temporary home while offering them legal assistance, medical/dental care, education and job skills training, counseling, and discipleship. The shelter in Guatemala City gives women refuge for 12 months as they develop a plan for a better life.
In partnership with Emmanuel’s Heart International in 2008, El Refugio first opened the doors of a women’s refuge. Later, in 2012, El Refugio was able to purchase property, and the El Refugio founders reopened the home at a new site. Since its completion, El Refugio has assisted hundreds of women and their children in a variety of ways. Presently, El Refugio is home to 14 people (six families), but the current building could hold up to 10 families. The house contains five bedrooms, and each bedroom is named after an outstanding woman from the Bible.
Soon after Amanda’s Google search, the Juillards took a leap of faith. They headed to Guatemala to become missionaries, and although Amanda reached out to the board members of El Refugio through messages and emails, she never received any responses. So, the couple enrolled their sons, Zachary and Elijah, into a missionary school, and Amanda and Rob rolled up their sleeves to begin work as missionaries. Amanda began by leading Bible studies for Guatemalans and other missionary women. She also taught for two years at the missionary school their sons attended. Rob started teaching students how to use computers, as well as teaching these students about Christ.
Both Amanda and Rob also helped weekly at an orphanage the first year they were in Guatemala. A few times they also went with other missionaries to help pass out Bibles, water filters, and food. They even built homes for Guatemalans who lived in tin sheds. The new homes contained two bedrooms and a common space with windows and a door.
After spending two years in Guatemala, El Refugio came back into Amanda’s life when she discovered a friend from the boys’ missionary school was a founder of the women’s shelter. Soon, Amanda was invited to volunteer at the shelter, and in 2017, she was added to the El Refugio Board.
Now Amanda leads jewelry production and sales. Creating unique jewelry is one of the skills women learn at El Refugio. The beautiful handmade pieces the women create help fund the shelter, and the women who made the also share part of the profit. Amanda and the ladies of El Refugio make at least 100 pieces of jewelry per week. They sell their unique earrings and bracelets for about $10, and necklaces sell for about $15 – $20.
Since she joined the El Refugio Board, Amanda has created a jewelry catalog. If people are interested in hosting a Jewelry Party, they could select pieces from the catalog that they think their friends would like. Amanda will then send up the jewelry with a team member or someone traveling to the US. Jewelry Party hosts display the jewelry for their friends to buy. To purchase the jewelry, guests could either use their PayPal account or use their credit card through a secure giving portal, CTEN. Buyers could even send a check to the El Refugio ministry donation office. The host would simply need to make sure that everyone “checks out” before they leave. Hosting a Jewelry Party is only one way in which a person can help the women and children at El Refugio, and currently, El Refugio could use all the help it can get.
According to the Juillards, the shelter needs to raise at least $10,000 per month. “We have about 65 monthly donors right now,” Amanda said. “With some one-time gifts as well, we are at about $6,000 a month, so we are very short and would love to have new partners.”
Amanda commented, “If people would like to partner with us on a monthly basis, they can go to our website, www.elrefugioguate.org (which Rob created) and click on the Donate Now button. That will take donors to our secure online giving platform where all donations are 100% tax deductible. In the “notes” section, put a memo of supporting the Deborah room which is the jewelry room. Every month, partners will receive an update on how the women are doing in the house and how the jewelry making is going!!”
If you don’t have the means to donate to El Refugio on a monthly basis, but you’d still like to help out the shelter then let us suggest AmazonSmile to you. Many people make purchases on Amazon and when you do so, you can use AmazonSmile which will donate .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to El Refugio. This won’t cost you anything, but it will benefit the women of El Refugio!
We at Hit Trophy are happy to be partners with the Juillards in supporting El Refugio, and we are proud of the Juillards and their efforts to create a safe haven for Guatemalan women and children. When you make a purchase at Hit Trophy, you can do so knowing that a small part of those profits go to the women of El Refugio. We urge you to join their efforts in transforming the lives of victims of abuse. Go to the Get Involved link to see other ways to help.
As for Amanda, she never regrets the decision her family made to become missionaries. That fateful Google search and the guidance of the Lord have made the difference in her life. Many mornings while she and the residents of El Refugio make jewelry, they listen and sing along to Spanish worship music. During those mornings, Amanda finds her work with El Refugio one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.