Letters From the Refuge

The Refuge is a place of hope in a hopeless situation.
I am inspired by the sheer courage of the young mothers.
I am touched by their stories.
I am encouraged by the programs the Refuge provides.
I am amazed by how much the Sisters can do with so little.
And the Sisters have been doing this work for the last 79 years!

Sister Yvette Mallow


In 1927 the Sisters of Most Merciful Love opened the doors of El Refugio de Misericordia, a home for adolescent mothers, at General Amengual 420 in the city of Santiago, Chile. The refuge houses twenty teenage mothers and their infants. They may stay until their child is a year old unless there are other extenuating circumstances. The sisters’ primary goals are to help the young mothers finish their high school (or grade school, and/or a trade school) education so that each young mother will be able to earn a living for herself and her child.


In order to come to the Refuge the mother must be under 18, the pregnancy must be her first, and the young mother has nowhere else to go for support. The average age of the young mothers is fourteen. Many of the young mothers come from a background of poverty and have been subjected to rape, incest, and violence. The pregnant teenagers are sent to the Refuge by a judge, or referred by a parish priest or a social worker, or by other people who are familiar with the work of the Refuge.


On the staff are the director, a psychologist, a social worker, a nurse, and three housemothers.