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Atlanta Area Academy Prepares For Potential Arrival Of Ukrainian Students

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- An Atlanta area non-profit academy that supports refugee and immigrant students is now preparing for the arrival of Ukrainian refugee students.

Maison Babikar, a senior at the Georgia Fugees Academy Charter School, is originally from Sudan. A non-profit called Fugees Family, Inc. operates the school.

"I was one of those kids who needed a place to like come and find and a second home," said Babikar, whose family came to America to get medical care for her sister. Other students are immigrants or refugees escaping conflicts in their home countries.

Luma Mufleh says the school has helped immigrant and refugee students since she opened it in Clarkston back in 2004. "I met a group of kids playing soccer, ended up coaching them, realized all their needs weren't being met, so I started a school," she said. Mufleh had migrated from the Middle East years earlier. "America took me in when I needed it to and protected me and gave me a place to heal," she said.

As the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, the school is now preparing to receive Ukrainian students. "We'll be learning about their culture and their background and the language and how to create safe spaces for them to start healing and learning," said Mufleh.

The non-profit now has two schools: one in Atlanta with about 176 students, and the other in Columbus, Ohio, with roughly 56 students. Fugees Family plans to train about 50 other school systems around the nation to provide the same curriculum. Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott recently donated 10 million dollars toward the cause.

"I really love the environment here, and it's just welcoming to all types of students from all over the world," said Babikar. "So many students had the same experience or similar experience, so it's a comfort that the school gives, and the teachers give, the teachers, they are very understanding."

She hopes to attend Kennesaw State University to become a civil engineer, but while she's here, she says she looks forward to meeting her future classmates.

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