Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good and Cheap (Books)! Day 15

The world is a messy place. I think this week has underscored this statement. I've seen posts online about how things are worse now than they were decades ago, or how we've lost our innocence, or how we should be afraid. I don't really buy that. The world is a messy place, the whole world, and as citizens of the world, we find ways to comfort each other and move forward.

Here's why I like Outcasts United by Warren St. John. The book is about doing what's difficult. It's about sports, but not in the sense of winning a game or season. It's about a community with problems, a messy blending of cultures, and it's about trying to make sense of change and find hope.

Clarkston, Georgia, is a town on the outskirts of Atlanta that became a center for refugees from around the world. People fleeing from war zones--Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Iraq--found themselves in an old Southern town. Some of the town residents adapt to the changes; a local supermarket was facing bankruptcy until the owner embraced the imported spices and foods that the new arrivals craved. Some resist change. It's a complicated world.
Luma Mufleh.

Enter Jordanian Luma Mufleh. Luma embraces the messiness of the changes, but also recognizes that for the teenagers of Clarkston who've seen the horrors of war and now find themselves in a new town with few resources, these are at risk kids. And these are kids who love to play soccer. Luma organizes a special youth soccer team to play in the town's league, and the players name their team The Fugees. Journalist Warren St. John follows a season of youth soccer with Luma and the Fugees, and Outcasts United is a book about bigger issues than scoring goals. Luma and her team aren't saints, and they aren't perfect, and they struggle. It's a messy world, and yet they press on and take action and find hope.
The Fugees have continued to support refugee kids and the team
has grown since the publication of Outcasts United.
Check out their incredible work here. 

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