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Meet Coach Luma Mufleh, the Fugees Family, and her Incredible Mission to help Child Survivors of War.

Updated on March 10, 2017
Source


Once upon a time there a was a young woman who accidentally turned down the wrong street on her drive home and stumbled upon a diverse group of kids playing soccer in a parking lot. Most were barefoot and they were using rocks as goals. “They didn’t look American, It’s a scene I’ve seen over and over again in Jordan or other parts of the world, but not in the United States”. says Coach Luma Mufleh.


Luma Mufleh stated that the scene left an impression, and a few days later she returned with a soccer ball. She offered the ball in return for a chance to play soccer with them.


She didn't know it at the time, but that the “wrong turn” on that fateful day would change her life and the lives of many others forever. Meet Luma Mufleh.

Luma Mufleh, who recently became a US citizen, was born in Amman, Jordan. She came to the United States to attend Smith College, in 1993. After graduating, she eventually ended up with a job in Clarkston, GA, a small community just outside of Atlanta.

It was in Clarkston, in 2004, where she made the “wrong turn" and started her "pickup game" in the parking lot with a group kids who were not exactly locals. So how did all of these kids, with backgrounds that stretched from one end of the earth to the other end up in Clarkston? As it turns out, Clarkston, GA is one of 350 U.S. cities that shelters child survivors of war, "refugees" from other countries...

As it so happens, "Coach" Mufleh had already been a girls soccer coach, and now she would coach "The Fugees" and compete all over Georgia. Under Coach Mufleh, boys from all over the world would play on the same team. "Africans and Asians, Northern and Southern Sudanese, Muslims and Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims - they all play on the same team, finding their commonalities instead of focusing on their differences." says Coach Mufleh. "Their bonds make them more secure in their own identity and more capable of acclimating to the mainstream".

From all over the world, playing and winning on the same team, "The Fugees"
From all over the world, playing and winning on the same team, "The Fugees" | Source
The 16 mile round trip ride to "Boot Camp"
The 16 mile round trip ride to "Boot Camp" | Source

Beyond the Soccer Field

But it was clear during that very first season the boys needed more than just bonding. They were put into the public school system and expected to learn Algebra and read Shakespeare. Most of them literally grew up in refugee camps in other parts of the world, how could they possibly catch up on years of lost education taught in a foreign language. "They were falling through the cracks". says Luma. She was repeatedly asked to help with schoolwork evenings after the soccer games had ended.....

“From that soccer game came our first team, when that team was having trouble in school we started a tutoring program, and when it became clear that tutoring wasn’t enough we started a school.” -- Coach Mufleh

In addition to a full academic year of hard study and discipline, including uniforms with ties (Coach Mufleh does not go easy on these kids), they also run an academic "boot camp" every summer at Agnes Scott College. The college is 8 miles away, and since the program is up to 80 kids, and their only bus accommodates 14 kids, they ride their bikes.

Field of Dreams

This Fall opens the 6th year of the Academy, The Fugees Academy expects to have 55 6th-9th grade students enrolled, which for now, is temporarily using rented church space. "For the first time in the school's history, we will have to turn children away, we simply don't have the physical space to accommodate our growing needs" says Coach Luma.

But there is hope. With the use of private donations (The FUGEES FAMILY accepts no government financial aid), they were able to acquire 19 acres of foreclosed land that is to be used as the school's permanent facility site -- "The Fugees Village".

Coach Luma Mufleh Dreams not only for her own children, but also for the children in the other 349 cities I mentioned earlier. A Dream that the Fugees Academy, and the proposed Fugees Village, will become a National Model on how to successfully teach and acclimate Child War Survivors from around the world into the mainstream.

The Fugees Village
The Fugees Village | Source

Ways to Help

The Fugees Family have a long way to go, but there is strong support behind them and even talk of a movie deal. There are several ways you can help if you are interested --


  • They have an Amazon "wishlist" which includes items like Algebra books, schools supplies and uniform apparel
  • They are also always looking for volunteers, please check out there website to read more about them

Fugees on CBS Sunday Morning

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    • jojo29 profile image

      Jane Boucheirre 3 years ago from CA

      Patriotism it is :-)

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks for stopping by Smilesnmore29 :)

    • profile image

      Smilesnmore29 4 years ago

      True example of the good will still in this world!

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks soooo much AudraLeigh! I was contemplating (just now) sharing this hub myself or not, because.... the annual Chase "American Giving Awards" starts today!! One week, one vote per day, Up for grabs? One million.. and these kids need it :)

      http://www.votefugees.org/

      Thanks again AudraLeigh :)))

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      A wonderful woman indeed! She oes so much for them! Thank you for putting together this wonderful piece in tribute to this wonderful woman!

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @whowas, really cool, Thanks again :)

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      @howlermunkey,

      You are welcome. I will do everything I can to promote this cause and drum up as much support as possible.

      :)

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @whowas, I keep this hub as my exclusive because I really believe in what Luma is trying to accomplish. Thank you for the Up and Sharing :)

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      Hi howlermunkey,

      I had never heard of this remarkable and wonderful woman or the great project that she has initiated. This is a very humbling and inspiring story indeed. Voted up and shared. Thank you.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks for the Comment Your Cousins! Luma is an amazing person. I have a feeling (hoping) she will make it.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I am familiar with the Fugees and their uplifting story. I hope that Coach Mufleh is able to get the money and support she needs to complete her dream. She is changing the lives of so many young people who just needed someone to care. Thanks for the great hub.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks for the wonderful comment shiningirisheyes. Luma Mufleh has devoted her life to helping these kids, truly amazing person. I have a feeling they will succeed with the Fugees Village (I hear a movie deal is on the way).

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      It takes a recent US citizen to show the rest of us the true symbol of patriotism. Such an amazing woman. She is to be admired and supported.

      Not only for how far she brouught herself but for having the fortitude to reach out to so many others. What started as a soccer ball donation turned into awesome life changes for so many.

      Truly inpirational and amazing. Voting up.