Lexington groups welcomes refugees

By Danielle Kaye

Lexington and the surrounding areas have been making substantial efforts to reach out to refugees and help them assimilate into local culture.

Currently more than 13 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda are in need of emergency assistance, according to an article by an organization aiming to raise awareness about the Social Economics of Poverty.

The Kentucky Refugee Ministries is one such organization that helps refugees and their families settle into their new environment.

The organization was originally established 21 years ago in Louisville, Ky., with an extension built locally in 1998.

“We provide resettlement services for refugees that come to Lexington,” Dabney Parker, the local resource coordinator, said.

The main refugee populations who come to Lexington are individuals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Botanize.

All of these people have faced serious hardships and challenges from their original countries and have been accepted as U.S. citizens.

Although Lexington welcomes refugees, “85 percent of all refugees arriving in Kentucky are resettled in Metro Louisville,” according to the Arcadia Community Center website.

In the 2007-08 year, the Kentucky Refugee Ministries resettled approximately 1,241 refugees into the Louisville area, according to the Arcadia Community Center website.

Lexington’s refugee population continues to grow. In 2009, Kentucky Refugee Ministries assisted 189 people, and in 2010 it assisted 283 individuals, Parker said.

“The U.S. was built on refugees coming here and so it is a part of our fabric as Americans to welcome them,” Parker said. “It is a courageous thing that they do to leave everything behind and start again. It’s a wonderful experience when you meet these folks and realize that they’re ready to start again.”