How a wrong turn led to forming an academy for refugees

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?'