She can't study or start a family all because of what happened at 15.

She's lived in two different places but never really belonged.

Sarah was only 15 years old when her sense of normalcy was flipped upside down.

"I was born in Congo ... . My mom is from Congo, and my Dad is Rwandan. We had an ordinary life. But at 15, both of my parents got arrested on allegations of spying."

Whoa ... Sarah quickly went into hiding, but that obviously wasn't the safest way to live.


"Feeling threatened everyday I fled to Holland. My asylum application was rejected ... . My only option was to try to apply for a Dutch temporary residence permit. During this process, I realized I'd lost both my Congolese and Rwanda nationality."

Belgian Congo postage stamp

The Congo rejected her based on her dual nationality. Rwanda also didn't recognize her as a citizen because she hadn't lived or been born there.

So, Sarah was stateless.

This means that she's not a citizen of any country. Instead, she's treated as a "legal anomaly" and could be denied basic civil and economic rights.

"12 years later, I am stuck in the same situation. There's no solution in sight. I can't study or move my life forward. I wish I could start a family. Instead, I feel isolated and confused."

Sarah may feel isolated, but her situation isn't unique. There are 600,000 people in Europe — and 10 million worldwide, who are also in limbo.

"These individuals remain vulnerable to human rights abuses every day: destitution to detention." — The European Network on Statelessness

But wait, there is a sunny side!

A bunch of folks from The European Network on Statelessness (yep, that's a real agency) are putting pressure on lawmakers to help Sarah get some normalcy back. One idea: creating a better process to identify stateless folks. To learn more about Sarah's story and how you can help, watch the video below.

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