The Lakewood Observer : Coach's Story About Helping Refugees Touches Many

December 13th, 2011

The Lakewood Observer
by Christine Gordillo
December 13, 2011


Luma Mufleh enthralled an overflow crowd at Garfield Middle School on December 6 as she told her tale of her journey from being a privileged child in Jordan to becoming the inspirational leader of a soccer team, the Fugees, which is made up of refugee boys from war-torn countries. Mufleh’s bond with her players eventually drove her to create a business to employ refugee family members, run a tutoring center and develop the first academy for refugees in the country.

Mufleh came to Lakewood as part of the Community Conversations series sponsored by Facing History & Ourselves and the Allstate Foundation. Facing History helps teachers develop curriculum that teaches students about making the right choices in the face of discrimination and intolerance. Lakewood High has been teaching Facing History courses for years and because of the close connection the school has had with the organization, LHS’ Race & Diversity Club, led by teacher Joe Lobozzo, was asked to be a co-host of the event.

The audience learned how Mufleh, who lives outside of Atlanta, struggled for years to find a purpose following her graduation from Smith College until she came upon a rag-tag bunch of boys playing soccer on a make-shift scruffy field with a beat-up ball and no shoes. As a former player and coach, something drew her to these boys, and after a number of times joining them in their games, she decided to form a team – the Fugees. The team gave the boys, from places such as Sudan, the Congo, Afghanistan and Bosnia, a place to feel safe and to learn to cope with a new and totally different world.

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