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Local girl throws benefit for Fugees

by: submitted photo, Rachel Jordan did her best to level the soccer playing fields for the Fugees, a program in Georgia for refugee families.

The rules of soccer may be the same around the world, but the playing field is far from level. You might think that reality would go right over the head of a pre-teen, but not in the case of Lake Oswego's Rachel Jordan.

Last spring soon to be 12-year-old Jordan was watching ESPN when a story about 'The Fugees,' an impoverished soccer program in Georgia aired.

The Fugees program is dedicated to providing playing opportunities for refugee children in Georgia. The program offers children of war an opportunity to escape and overcome the harsh realties of their lives. The players come from 18 different countries including Afghanistan, Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Bosnia. In three years, their efforts have grown from 20 kids to three boys select teams and a girl's team.

All participants are required to sign a contract committing to the team's standards and expectations. They are also required to attend tutoring sessions to help with their schoolwork.

Jordan thought about the children on the Fugee teams alot.

'I have a soccer team and cleats and great uniforms,' she said. 'My parents have good jobs. I can get help with my homework.

'I couldn't imagine not having those things. I knew then I would do something for them on my birthday. I had a big party and told my friends that my house and heart are full and could they please help the Fugees.'

Jordan invited her Lake Oswego Soccer Club U12 Samurai team, her traveling basketball teammates and classmates to her party. They raised over $500 for the Fugees.

'Books and soccer are important to me, so I purchased books on the wish list and gas cards to help the Fugees get to their games,' she said. They also send games and soccer equipment.

'This was definitely a 'Rachel-' generated event,' said mother Andi Jordan. 'And as her mother, I'm incredibly proud of the size of her heart!'

A non-profit organization, Fugees Family is dedicated to improving the lives of Georgia's refugees by attending to physical fitness, education, health and housing issues.

For more information about the Fugees, visit the Web site at www.fugeesfamily.org .