Refugees add special flavor to Louisville, WorldFest


by Johhny Archer

Posted on September 1, 2013 at 1:08 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Louisville is a city growing in population which part of the growth is due to refugees from other countries.

Halfway around the world, a civil war threatens the Karin people of Burma.

“The government carries out criminal abuse everywhere in the area. So I could not stay there because of the security of my family. I have to move to the United States,” K’Waw, a Burmese refugee said.

Two years, K’Waw took refuge in Louisville. A safe haven away from the devastation his nation has seen for more than 60 years.

Annette Ellard helps Burmese refugees resettle in Louisville. Ellard also ministers refugees with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“This is a preferred resettlement site for the U.S. State Department in part because jobs and housing are easier for people to find here but also because this is such a welcoming place,” she said.

2330 is less than one percent of refugees around the world who get a chance to resettle in another country. Many of the refugees who come to Louisville have an opportunity that is very unique.

“What most people don’t know is there is a large refugee population we have here in Louisville,” Ellard said.

11 percent of Louisville’s population is made up of foreign born residents. For many, the transition to the States is not easy. K’waw was used to living in the rain forests of Burma.

“Here in the big city, modern technology – so it’s very challenging for me. They come here and they don’t have any experience of big city systems. Everything here is so new,” he said.

The refugees bring with them new cultures, food and music adding to an ever growing diverse population in Louisville.

There are two main resettlement agencies for refugees in Louisville. One is the Catholic Charities of Louisville and the other is the Kentucky Refugee Ministries.