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How a wrong turn led to forming an academy for refugees

How a Wrong Turn Led to Forming an Academy for Refugees

A wrong turn ended up being the right turn for Luma Mufleh when she spotted a group of refugees playing soccer in Clarkston, Georgia. HLN has more about this woman's inspiring story.

'One woman says that she never thought making a wrong turn would inspire her to start a soccer team. Fugee soccer started off by accident.'

It was indeed an accident, but it gave Mufleh purpose. After seeing a group of kids playing soccer, she returned to the area later in the week ... and came prepared.

'This time I was armed with a soccer ball.'

From that point, she began coaching them. Born in Jordan, Mufleh came to the U.S. at the age of 18 to attend college. She tells Voice of America seeing the kids play brought back memories.

'Playing without shoes, they had two little rocks set up as goals. It reminded me of home.'

According to Access Atlanta, Clarkston's population went from 90% white to 14% white over the course of 30 years. This is due to the arrival of refugees from more than 40 countries.

Mufleh tells CBS all the refugee kids have experienced some type of hardship and have fled their countries because of war.

'The civil war in Sudan, the war in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Congo, and Iraq.'

Mufleh tells HLN after practice the kids started asking her for help with homework. So she began going apartment to apartment, tutoring them. But that wasn't enough to help them graduate.

With donations and money from her own pocket, Mufleh started the Fugees Academy to fulfill the needs she says other schools didn't. Mufleh acts as a principal, coach and parental figure.

Fugee Academy student and soccer player Obai, 13, tells CBS about the program.

'Today I wouldn't be the young man I am without the Fugee and coach.'

Another refugee also expressed gratitude.

'If I hadn't been here I could've been dragged into being a gang member, and that's not a great thing.'

Although the kids are thanking Mufleh, she in turn thanks the U.S. She tells Voice of America 'Where else would an Arab-Muslim woman be able to coach teenage refugee boys from 28 different countries?'

Join the discussion

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Kate March 30 2014 at 6:28 AM

What a wonderful thing! Ms. Mufleh is to be congratulated on her achievement, and it makes me a little homesick too, not that I come from the Middle East. But I grew up in South America, and played street soccer just about every day (good lord no, we never wore shoes), and then afterwards a friend of mine and I would hold mandatory classes, grin, on the steps of my house.

The neighborhood kids grumbled a good deal about it, but between Dorotea's hauteur and my coaxing, we really did teach a lot of our friends how to read and write.

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Jan March 30 2014 at 11:57 AM

There is nothing like being brought up with your own in you own nation, but
it is what it is and this one woman has surely make it a different world for these
refugees....I'm sure they will be forever thankful.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
YourFtr March 30 2014 at 2:24 PM

Sorta reminds me of Tom Hanks in one of his better mvoie's 'Charlie Wilsons War;
where, at the afghan refugee camp, the refugees were begging him.......
When he asked the guide what they wanted.....
The guide said they think you are President of the US....They are begging you for help against the Russians.....!!

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madddddddddddddd March 30 2014 at 9:34 AM


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punnster March 30 2014 at 8:23 AM

Fortunately, the right person made that wrong turn.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
ectullis March 30 2014 at 8:11 AM

Just what we need

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Annette March 30 2014 at 2:47 PM

The world needs more people like Mufleh.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
zarm90 March 30 2014 at 7:41 AM

she is awsome ,gods heart lives thru her.Someone who doesnt look past a situation,but takes it head on.If we had a goverment like this we would be able to take care of everyone.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
RHONDA March 30 2014 at 8:06 PM

You are an earth angel Luma. It is so wonderful to see stories like this. Godspeed.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
IBruzEZ March 30 2014 at 7:40 AM

Bless her for her dedication.! and I will bet these kids appreciate this much more than the average teens raised in this country. These kids come from real deprivation and will soak this up like a sponge.!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
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