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How I spent my Valentine’s Day

I arrived in Cebu four days ago for a two week visit with our girls and staff. The floodgates of emotion and joy opened with my first step onto campus.

Can you say banana grove?!

Here’s the deal. When I was here just six months ago, we didn’t have a banana tree. Now, we have a banana grove! They’ve already harvested and enjoyed some of the fruit!

A fraction of the banana trees now flourishing on campus

This has become the metaphor of my current trip. Our staff are amazing in the way they plant seeds and cultivate the lives of our girls. They do so with faith and hope that one day the girls will become all that they are meant to be.

If you’ve heard me speak, you’ve likely heard me talk about being here for Kim’s move-in to My Refuge House almost two years ago. It was a gripping and emotional experience that left me with months of introspection about the power of joy, resilience and community. She was recently accepted as one of our peer leaders on campus! That is amazing, and I think it even surprises her. She’s quiet. She’s introverted. She doesn’t think she’s very smart.

But she is a leader.

She stays focused or gets back on track when she doesn’t. She reaches out for help. She’s kind. She is a great role model because she is trying.

Like the banana grove, I couldn’t have imagined this amount of growth in Kim in such a short period of time. I’ve also learned that I should rely on my imagination for what is possible.

Together, as one, we make dreams and hopes reality for our girls. I spent much of yesterday evening (Valentine’s Day) with our local board members here in Cebu. Most of them have been around since the earliest days of My Refuge House. They have continued to be a constant presence and a support to our staff and girls.

Local Board Members and Directors of MRH in Cebu (L to R: Romulo Mandalupe, Tom Riveral, Florimae Velasco, Heather Bland, Lea Jocson, Rose Ann Obenque, Omar Burdeos)

To be with them and hear their stories and love for My Refuge House was the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. We had a great deal of fun laughing about the truth of that!

With much Peace and Love, Heather


Heather Bland is the CEO of My Refuge House. She loves to tell stories and talk about strengths. Feel free to email her at heather@myrefugehouse.org

If you live in Southern California, you also have the opportunity to learn more about My Refuge House at our event on March 18th. We hope you’ll join us at Change For One 2017.