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Refugees build new lives in America, must rebuild again after tornado

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Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 29, 2021

WARREN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's an area known as home to immigrants and refugees from across the world. It's also where most of the tornado victims in Warren County lived.

The Moss Meadows/Creek neighborhood of Bowling Green is known as a haven for refugees. The community is composed of families from Bosnia, Albania, Turkey, China, Burma, and Tanzania to name a few.

Many saved to buy homes in the area, and after a devastating tornado, now must rebuild again.

Jacques Hamisi's family is one of them.

His parents moved from Tanzania to Bowling Green in 2010. When they first arrived, they lived in a refugee camp.

His father worked multiple jobs and saved, eventually buying the home that was destroyed.

"What I was the most upset about is the home. The house we like worked so hard to, my parents worked to build was destroyed. But I'm grateful that me and my family are safe," said Hamisi.

The family gathered in the living room. Right above them, half the roof swept away.

"The house can be rebuilt," said Hamisi.

They're hoping someone will help them with the rebuilding process before they have to leave their friend's home.

Albert Mbanfu, Executive Director of the International Center, says that's the position many of their neighbors are in.

"They built their homes. They were living the American dream until everything came crashing down," said Mbanfu.

For him, that makes things even harder to accept.

"Because these are refugees coming in from war-torn countries where there are all sorts of upheavals and all social problems that you can imagine. And when they arrived the United States they took this deep sigh of relief that finally arrived a place where... they are free to go wherever they want to go and do whatever they want to do without any fear. But when the tornado came, it was like, is this another war I'm about to face," said Mbanfu.

His hope is that when the cameras go away people will continue to support the international families who decided to call Bowling Green home.

"The support we receive has been so overwhelming and we didn't imagine that people who didn't know us will be willing to lend a helping hand and support us. So I just want to take this opportunity on behalf of the International Center to just thank the United States for their generosity," said Mbanfu.

Even while they're assisting storm-impacted families, they're also helping the more than 100 Afghan refugees the community accepted in November.

"We've actually succeeded in helping both, and as I said, we have the resources we need to take care of the immediate needs. Our worry is the long term," said Mbanfu.

If you want to help you can reach out to the International Center of Kentucky.