"united outcasts" Book Review

In 1997, Luma notified her parents that she would stay in the United States. 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 women’s soccer at the local YMCA in Clarkston, Georgia. She ran into children playing soccer in the street and she felt that she could have a bigger impact with them. She quit her job and vowed to team up with these guys. They called themselves the “Fugees”.

Clarkston initially resisted the newly arrived refugees. The whites left and those who stayed were not welcome. The police and the mayor tried everything in their power to keep them in place.

Over time, some people began to accept diversity. A local shopkeeper took the advice of a Vietnamese girl who suggested that she start stocking the shop with ethnic foods. A church was renamed and welcomed all groups. A new police chief fixed bugs. In 2009 the term of the mayor ended.

Luma got an assistant named Tracy. Writer Warren St. John shared her story. They obtained donations and hired two teachers to work with the tutoring team.

This book took a while to read because it went into the history of the situations each of the players had come from. It reminds us of the difficulties refugees face. If we were in the same position, we would expect kindness from someone.

I was lucky to have made a friend in 1999 with one of the Sudan “Lost Boys” 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 unknown. Sometimes events are out of our control, but we can miss opportunities by not meeting the 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 can take years before we figure out how. I have witnessed it in my life. I hope to see more.

I thank God for those I have met and those I have yet to meet. My best wishes to everyone in this story.

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