"Outcasts United" by Warren St. John
Until the 1990's Clarkston, Georgia was what one would consider a typical Southern American town. Then it was designated a refugee settlement centre and it became the first American home for families fleeing the worlds war zones - places like Liberia, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Soon, the streets were filled with women wearing the hijab or traditional African dress and kids of all colours playing soccer in the street. Unfortunately, not everyone in Clarkston was welcoming of the refugees or the changes in their city.
Luma Mufleh is an American-educated Jordanian woman who was a girl's soccer coach when she discovered the young refugee boys playing soccer on the street. She founded a youth soccer team, known as the Fugees, to help unify these boys and soon found that her role would go far beyond being a soccer coach. She became a translator, a mentor and an advocate for the refugee community in Clarkston.
Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, An American Town follows the Fugees through one pivotal season and their story is one that is about more than soccer. It's about the refugee experience in America and Clarkston, Georgia, a town that without its consent became a social experiment.
As Warren St. John chronicles the soccer season from start to finish, he inserts the stories of the young boys and their families, the horrors they witnessed, the wars they survived and the difficulty of starting over in a new land. He also inserts the stories of Clarkston's original residents when this social experiment began. It is honest about the prejudices people held, the fights they put up, and how over time their attitudes changed to build a new Clarkston, one that is ethnically diverse and accepting of all.
Readers will be inspired by Luma Mufleh's selfless dedication to the young boys. Outcasts United highlights the needs of the refugee and immigrant populations in North America, how and where things can go wrong and what we can do to make it a better experience for all.