Imagine you were born cursed

March 13, 2014

Imagine you were born into war; into poverty; raised in a refugee camp, or worse, kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier in a brutal civil war. Imagine being forced out of your country and never having a home. Imagine the hopelessness, the deep certainty, that your life will never get better. Imagine feeling this way, knowing this, at ten years old.Now imagine that, against all odds, the journey of your young, cursed life takes an incredible turn: you have been accepted into the United States as one of its newest, and youngest refugees. You are saved. Opportunity awaits – if you can just get around the new obstacles.Obstacles? There are many. You don’t read or speak English, and you suddenly find yourself thrown into 6th grade at a public elementary school. You don’t understand the new culture. You can’t keep up. You don’t know how to answer the call to freedom and greatness that your adopted country is offering you. You get mocked an bullied because you are so different. How will you become a valuable American citizen, when you’ve been dropped into this new world without a clue as to how to succeed?The answer to this question is the “Big Idea” behind the Fugees Academy.Opportunities? There are many. You learn to read and speak English, you pick up a pencil and write words, sentences, stories for the first time in your life. You find yourself surrounded by children from 18 different countries. They have also lived through the unthinkable, but, more importantly, they are now your classmates, your teammates, your new friends. Slowly you feel you are no longer an outsider. At Fugees Academy, you are shown the path to success, and given the tools you need to get there. You are outfitted with a school uniform and a soccer uniform, and you feel proud to wear them. You get to play your favorite sport, soccer, but you have to pass to do so. In this environment, doing well in school is possible—not because the material is easier, but because everyone believes in you and sees your potential. You are held accountable, and you are inspired, daily, to exceed expectations. You are excited to go to school everyday. You learn about your new home, you go trick or treating, eat hot dogs and watch fireworks on the 4th of July and share a meal with your new extended school family on Thanksgiving. You will become the first in your family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college. You are writer, a scientist, an artist a mathematician and an athlete. You are a Fugee You have hope, and you give hope to others. You are the American dream. This school —- the Fugees Academy – is already up and running in Clarkston Georgia, USA . It has a proven track record. Here, refugee children encounter opportunities, not obstacles.This little school has already been educating refugee children for five years, clothed them in school uniforms, given them a sense of self, developed their English language skills to the point that they breeze through Harry Potter books and seen them get scholarships to American UniversitiesBut the school – housed in a rented building – can only serve (57) students at a time. The FUGEES ACADEMY – our “big idea” – will accommodate (300) full time students, providing them with a first rate education, soccer facilities, uniforms, and the chance to become model American citizens who will do our country proud.Our school has operated in a basement, a two bedroom apartment, a house and now on the third floor of a church. We study in classrooms that are too small. We practice on fields that have no goals. Next year we will have to move once more. Uprooting, packing, unpacking and doing our best to make do in a temporary home yet again. Imagine being a part of history. Imagine refugee children finding opportunities instead of obstacles. . Imagine building the first school for refugees in the country. Imagine providing a home for those that have never had one. Imagine the Fugees having a place to call home. Forever.

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