November 13, 2018

Kendré Barnes talks about work with refugees

By Daniel Cruse —

Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) English teacher Kendré Barnes shared the tea with the Student Activities Board Diversity Committee Nov. 7.

The event was part of  SAB’s Diversity Week, U of L’s way to celebrate and explore the varied and diverse cultural background of the student body here on campus.

Senior Diversity Chair Poonum Haldankar organized the panel.

Barnes discussed her experiences dealing with refugees, immigrants, paroles and asylees. Asylees are people who are seeking asylum from their home country.

Barnes works to help aid the process of transitioning them to understand our language, culture and lifestyle.

Discussions at the panel opened with an estimated number of refugees in our country and the fact around 23 million children have come here as refugees.

Organizations and people who want to open up and help the refugees have received pushback from the executive branch of the federal government that largely controls the enforcement of immigration and refugee policy.

KRM hopes to continue helping as much as they can.

Barnes spoke in great detail about the non-profit organization, which serves to help resettle people who may not be able to make it on their own through faith and agency sponsorships, donations and more.

She said KRM believes in helping anyone who comes to America. This is a sentiment shared with the Diversity Committee and many of the students who were interested in the event.

Barnes expanded on the importance of helping refugees and immigrants throughout the panel.

“Louisville is behind only two cities for Cuban migrants, and there is a deficit of employees working here so refugees and immigrants are vital to the city’s economic development,” she said.

The organization has already resettled around 15,000 refugees and Barnes said they have no plans to slow down or stop helping as long as people are in need.

KRM and the Diversity Committee both believe that this is a city that thrives on diversity because of the vibrant cultures working and blending together.

After the panel, Barnes said she hopes students at U of L will look to help in any way they can, and continue to have conversations about this topic to keep a progressive dialogue on the table.

Photo by Daniel Cruse / The Louisville Cardinal

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