Story

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Lulu wants to play outside again

Meet Lulu. She’s almost 6 years old. She has long brown hair and a bright smile and is very smart. She speaks two languages. She loves dancing and horses and making beautiful things. And she needs your help.

Lulu lives in Toronto, Canada, but her life is not like any other child in Toronto or maybe anywhere. She lives in a church and cannot go outside. She sleeps in the church. She eats in the church. She showers in the church. She reads in the church. She plays in the church. She dances in the church. She bakes cookies in the church. She laughs in the church, but more often, she cries in the church. She is not free. She misses running in the park and splashing in the puddles. She cannot go to school because she must stay in the church.

Why? Because of the color of her skin.

Lulu was born in Hungary. Lulu’s parents were so happy when she was born, and she had lots of relatives who loved her. Her ancestors were Jewish and Christian. Also, Lulu and her parents are Roma, an ethnic group who live in countries around the world. Many Roma people have skin that is a little bit darker than most people in Hungary, and are easily recognized.

Life is very hard for Roma people in Hungary. They are not treated fairly. Lulu’s parents knew this was wrong and worked hard to fight for the rights of Roma children. They knew that Roma children deserved the same things all children deserve – safety, food, water, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare. But some people in Hungary do not agree with Lulu’s parents. These people tried to stop Lulu’s parents from doing their work. Things became more dangerous. One day, when Lulu was only one year old, Lulu’s dad came home from work and was attacked. Four men beat him up and then hurt Lulu’s mom. They even threatened to kill Lulu and her parents.

After this, Lulu and her parents were very afraid. They knew they would not be safe in Hungary. It wasn’t fair. Lulu couldn’t change the color of her skin, and they wanted her to be proud to be Roma. So they packed a suitcase and took a plane to Canada. They heard that Canada was a safe place that would protect them.

But things weren’t fair in Canada either. The good thing was that there were all kinds of skin colors in Toronto, so Lulu blended in, just like all the other kids. But the government of Canada didn’t listen to her parents’ story. They didn’t look at all the evidence her parents showed about the terrible things that had happened in Hungary. They decided to send Lulu’s family back. Her parents knew they couldn’t go. If they went back, they wouldn’t be able to protect Lulu and they all could be hurt or killed. Their only option was to hide in a safe place. The safe place they found was a church.

Now, Lulu has lived inside the church for more than two years. Her friends all go to school. All day every day she stays in the church with her mom and dad and dreams that one day she will be free. She hopes the government of Canada will let her stay in Canada.

Please help set Lulu free! Lulu needs children (and adults) to ask the government of Canada to let her stay in Canada.