Mandy Holloway Co-Founder & Executive Director

“I am grateful for what my trips to Africa have taught me, it’s so radically life changing it’s hard to describe.”

Mandy Holloway, executive director of Refuge 127 and co-founder of Refuge 127 nonprofit organization, devotes her life to living God’s will and is currently working to improve the quality of life for the orphans she visits once a year in Uganda, Africa.

Her journey started in December of 2008 when she and her best friend Lacey Melancon, decided to take part in their first tour of homes fundraiser. Together they raised $1,500 dollars that they donated to the Juvenile Justice Center in Thibodaux, to buy gifts for foster children. Holloway, her husband, Shay and Melancon were so touched by the experience that they continued to work with Juvenile Justice Center for six years. While working with the Juvenile Justice Center, Holloway and her husband became parents to three of the children living there. Holloway said, “We truly felt like God was teaching us the heartbeat of the orphan and what they go through, especially having them live in our home and becoming parents to them.”

Six years after Holloway started working with the foster children at the Juvenile Justice Center, she and her husband were presented with the opportunity to visit an orphanage in Uganda, Africa. On her first visit in 2012, Holloway said she was overwhelmed by the poverty that the 550 orphans she visited were experiencing. During her first trip when she walked on the site of the main orphanage, there was only three shells of buildings, there were no roofs, doors or windows. Two years later, the small group that Holloway and her husband have assembled, are half way done with their sixth building.

Holloway explained that her vision is to help improve the orphans’ quality of life by providing them with medical services, addressing their health issues, providing food, and helping them obtain an education along with working with them spiritually. Holloway’s ultimate goal is to have 20 completed dormitories with cement floors, windows, doors, beds, roofs, and completely functioning solar power lights, a cafeteria for them to eat at, provided with tables, chairs, utensils and bowls, and a classroom with books. Lastly, they will include farming for the village so that they will be able to produce their own food and crops along with livestock to produce eggs and milk.

She said that Africa is she and her husband’s favorite place to be, because the orphans’ love for god is so pure and so beautiful. She said, “we always go there thinking that we are going to help them but really they help and change me for the better. I am grateful for what my trips to Africa have taught me, it’s so radically life changing it’s hard to describe.”