Can you watch this without crying?

(Click here if vimeo isn’t playing)

Okay, so maybe you’re a tougher person than me. But I can barely even tell the Fugees Family story without choking up. There’s just something so remarkable about the faces of these beautiful kids from all over the world, who have lived through terrible, terrifying things no child should have to see … and yet somehow landed on the soccer fields of Clarkston, Georgia under the fierce, demanding and loving protection of Luma Mufleh.

It’s a remarkable story…and it’s already been told in a book Outcasts United by New York Times writer, Warren St. John, soon to become a movie by Universal Pictures. Five years ago, Coach Luma started a soccer team, to provide refugee boys resettled in Clarkson, Georgia with a place to play, heal, and feel at home in this strange new land. Despite all outside advice, she included anybody who wanted to play and would live up to her strict rules of conduct: Africans and Asians, Northern and Southern Sudanese, Muslims and Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims – they all play on the same team.

But Luma quickly learned that her involvement with her team was destined to move well beyond the soccer pitch, as she began to help her players with their homework (their parents generally don’t read or speak English) and learn how to succeed in school when many of them had never been in a classroom, didn’t know the language and in fact, couldn’t read. So she did what any normal soccer coach would do – she started a school.

Fugee scholars at the Academy.

And now 27 refugee boys attend the Fugee Academy; 86 boys aged 10-19 are part of the Fugees Family year-round soccer program; each gets after-school tutoring; and 72  are biking every day for six weeks this summer from Clarkston to Agnes Scott College to attend an academic enrichment camp. (“The buses were too expensive and besides, it’s good exercise for all of us,” Luma says cheerfully.)

Fugees on the trail to camp

And if you think Coach Luma is stopping there, you might as well drop and give her 10.  In May, she will watch her first Fugee graduate from college (Shamsoun from Sudan), add another grade (9th) to the Fugee Academy, and continue to raise money to build her school on the 19 acres of land she just purchased in Clarkston, for which she raised $650,000 in thirty days.

Fugees on the dirt mound that will be their new school.

Spend five minutes with Luma, and you’ll realize that the term, “In for a dime, in for a dollar” was certainly written with her in mind –and the dollar will undoubtedly be yours, because you’ll be dying to give it to her to support the Fugees Family. I stood beside her at camp and watched the boys troop back in after swimming –kids from Nepal and Afghanistan, Liberia and Burundi, Cuba and the Congo, shoulder to shoulder – and the one thing they had in common (besides a good attitude and their yellow Fugees t-shirts) was this one, small Jordanian guardian angel standing in the back. Their Coach.

Coach Luma and her Fugees.

To join me in donating, click here. And to volunteer (there’s plenty to do!), click here.

10 thoughts on “Can you watch this without crying?

  1. I’ve been hooked on supporting the Fugees Family ever since reading a Jan 2007 NYTimes article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/us/21fugees.html). Since then I’ve followed their story in Sports Illustrated and on the Today Show and other national outlets as Coach Luma fights for the Fugees Family and brings them more and more opportunity.
    Great project you’ve undertaken – I suspect July 16 will be one you’ll remember!

  2. WOW, this is proof of what Bishop Eddie Long said; “To the world, you may be just one person, but to one person, you may just be the world.” Thanks for this story and bringing awareness that there ARE some beautiful things happening in this world.

  3. (sorry, I was accidentally logged in as you still..)
    You’re right, I cried. Luma is certainly an Earth Angel, but so are these young boys… uniting their individual histories, and certainly beaming grace at every opportunity. You can’t have sweet face like that and not have grace in your heart.

  4. You’re right, I cried. Luma is certainly an Earth Angel, but so are these young boys… uniting their individual histories, and certainly beaming grace at every opportunity. You can’t have sweet face like that and not have grace in your heart.

  5. What a beautiful story and cause. Thanks Betty for bringing awareness to the Fugee Family Academy and thanks to Luma for her work with these children! Both of you are true humanitarians.

  6. beautifully written. I love this story too and enjoy hearing more and more about the impact Luma makes on the Fugee family. I wish to be more like her each day and now more like you. What a great thing you are doing.

    • I have had the experience of help getting the Fugees the zoning approval for their new school. Though that met Luma and Tracey and have been blown away.
      As Pattie says, I have fallen down the rabbit hole and there is no getting out.
      Want to get tired, just watch one of the practices of her Fugee teams.
      Thanks Betty for all you are doing and this great article

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