Hughes & Coleman Hometown Hero: Daniel Tarnagda

Daniel Tarnagda is the founder of Refuge BG after his experience of being an immigrant in America. He wanted help immigrant and refugee families in need.
Updated: Nov. 24, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Houssouwo Daniel Tarnagda immigrated from the West African country of Burkina Faso in 2013.

The only words he knew when he arrived were “my name is Daniel,” he said.

The frustration of not knowing the language and customs of his new home made him think about his choice to move to the U.S.

With the help and support of his wife, Alice, Tarnagda was able to learn English, earn his GED, and is currently studying electrical engineering at SKYCTC.

In order to help other international individuals in the area that may not be lucky enough to have the support that he did, Daniel and Alice founded the non-profit organization Refuge BG.

It is an organization that provides supportive, Christ-centered services to the international community in the Bowling Green area.

“This makes me feel very happy to serve other people,” Tarnagda said. “Let’s just work together and serve other people.”

The services offered by Refuge BG include free English classes, driving lessons, and employment assistance.

Daniel even drives the van to transport individuals participating in the organization’s services.

In addition, he is also the coach for Geo International High School and Teranga Academy’s soccer teams. He makes sure each player is keeping their grades up, speaks English on the field, and has a job if they are old enough.

Daniel’s commitment and leadership have led the GIHS soccer team to victory at the KYSA Commonwealth Cup Championship.

His advocacy for the international and minority communities has allowed him to partner with numerous organizations and businesses in the area to help provide support and services.

One of those community partners is the KY STEPS Survivors of Torture Recovery Center. It is a program that addresses the trauma of refugees that have fled from war and violence.

“They are always so willing to be involved with everything refugee related,” said Kelly Foust, Program Coordinator for STRC, “He is the epitome of servant leader.”

“All of his time is dedicated toward helping others and he’s such a good role model to the kids and teens he mentors, and he just genuinely cares about others,” said Paige Cato, a therapist at KY STEPS - STRC.

The international community was also affected when the tornadoes came through Bowling Green last December. The organization has been helping the recovery efforts for them.

“A lot of Daniel’s passion comes from his faith in Christ,” said Colin Wood, Disaster Case Manager for Refuge BG.

“He meets with and learns about each family and figures out a way to help meet those needs,” Wood said.

One of the most important reasons Daniel brings these services to the international community is to preserve the integrity of international families.

Along with the language and customs barriers, many immigrants and refugee families find themselves traveling long distances seeking service and support. Making them available in the area alleviates that burden on them.

“We find so many of our refugees and immigrants traveling hours to different states, and they can’t even have time to spend with family or the children,” Tarnagda said, “There was a big disconnect between kids and mom and dad. How can we bring the family back together?”

While being nominated and selected for Hughes & Coleman Hometown Hero was an honor for Daniel, he says that he could not have made any of his accomplishments without his wife Alice. He expressed being thankful for her love, support, and the things she does for him.