In 1997, Luma notified her parents she was staying in America. She came here at the age of 21. Her father was not happy with her decision. After graduating from college, she was determined to make it on her own.
In 2002, she got a job coaching girls’ soccer at the local YMCA in Clarkston, Georgia. She accidental boys playing a street pick-up game of soccer and felt she could make more of an impact with them. She quit her job and committed to starting a team with these boys. They named themselves the “Fugees”.
Clarkston was initially resistant to the refugee newcomers. White people left and those who stayed were not welcoming. The police and mayor tried everything in their strength to keep them in their place.
Over time, a few people began embracing varied. A local grocer took advice from a Vietnamese girl who suggested he begin stocking the store with ethnic foods. A church renamed itself and welcomed all the groups. A new police chief righted wrongs. In 2009, the mayor’s term ended.
Luma got an assistant named Tracy. The writer, Warren St. John shared their story. They got donations and hired two teachers to work with the team tutoring.
This book took a while to read because it went into the history of situations each of the players had come from. It does remind us of the difficulties refugees confront. If we were in the same position, we would hope for kindness from someone.
I was blessed to have made a friend in 1999 with one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan in Phoenix, Arizona. My daughter-in-law is from Sudan. God knew in 1999 when we met our friend that my son would marry a girl from that same country when he grew up.
In uncertain times, fear keeps us at a distance from the unfamiliar. Sometimes, events are out of out our control but we can miss out on opportunities by not getting to know refugees in our communities.
I love reading stories of people who made a difference in the lives of others. That kindness can have a ripple effect and multiply. Sometimes, it may be years before we find out how. I’ve witnessed it in my life. I hope to see more.
I thank God for those I’ve met and those I have in addition to meet. Best wishes to everyone in this story.