Although she’s only 18 years old, Lula’s short life has been a roller coaster. When she was 16, her mother packed her things and left Arizona… leaving her daughter alone in their family home. Lula was distraught, even attempting suicide before she was finally placed in a group home by DCS. The environment in her group home was toxic, so after she turned 18, Lula decided to leave. She found comfort in the arms of a man who promised her everything she never had: protection, security, and love. She thought she was finally safe.

After a few weeks, Lula found herself in a car en route to Mexico, where she was eventually sold into sex slavery. She felt lonely, abused, and worthless. She escaped her trafficker by jumping out of the second story window where she was held captive, and spent 2 weeks in a general hospital recovering. Once she finally had enough money to pay her hospital bill, she was transferred to the U.S. border and taken to the Salvation Army House. She now lives in a shelter in Tucson, where she has enrolled in school with only a few credits until she graduates.

YOTO has helped Lula by giving her school supplies, clothing, food, and hygiene supplies. She also maintains a 3.0 GPA, which allows her to earn the maximum stipend amount each month. After she graduates in May 2017, Lula hopes to join the Peace Corps or enroll in college, where she looks forward to studying abroad.