This is a big one folks, an important show!  Episode 40 of HatRadio! features JOSEPH PUSUMA, a Hungarian Roma, who spent three years in sanctuary, in two different Toronto churches, together with his wife and child, Lulu. They were locked up. They could not leave. They were denied their freedom by Immigration Canada, until they were freed. With that in mind, at the core of this show then, is one courageous man’s true and clear appreciation of FREEDOM to go where he wants, and live life the way he determines. It’s riveting.

In 2009, Joseph was a human rights investigator, travelling throughout Europe documenting terrible abuse levied at his fellow Roma, such as the stabbing death of a 16-year old boy by a cashier in a food store, ‘because he didn’t like the Roma’.

Local neo-Nazis didn’t appreciate Joseph’s work and decided one day beat the shit out of him and his wife, Timea. Lulu, their toddler, at the time, was saved because Joseph lay across her while the thugs beat him with a bat.

A short while later, the Pusumas came to Toronto claiming refugee status. After having experienced hell back in Hungary, they were scammed here by an immigration lawyer, whose shoddy work ensured the Pusumas would be deported.

Luck! When does it come, and too whom? 

The Pusumas, were offered and accepted sanctuary in two different churches. Their 18-month stay at Windermere Church, through the generosity of Minister Alexa (Episode 4, HatRadio!), and congregation, was the most significant time however. It was there, the Pusuma story really took on a life of its own, within the church, through the media and across the nation.

Throughout this interview, Joseph shares his narrative with us including what it was like to live in one room with his family, and be without a shower for the first three months. He says his life was “abnormal”. It was painful watching free Canadians walk past the church, people who were unaware of the Pusumas within its walls. Joseph tells us about the challenge of having to repeat his story over and over to visitors to their room, essentially being in a fish bowl. At one point however, Joseph states how important it was, to be visited by a Holocaust survivor who had been hidden throughout the war as well. “She understood”, Joseph said.

The Pusumas had many people of all religions and backgrounds fighting for their freedom. Ultimately, they secured it and became residents of Toronto. Joseph said, today he is ordinary man, with an apartment, a car, a job. He is someone, like you and I, who  visits Niagara Falls, walks through parks –all of this with his family, all of whom embrace their freedom.

And, Joseph is an awesome chef hoping to open his own Canadian-Gypsy restaurant. I know he will.

Joseph Pusuma says he loves life and wants to enjoy every day. About Timea, Joseph says she is an amazing woman who helped him through their ordeal. He loves her dearly. About Lulu: she is acing school, is wise beyond her years and is now teaching her parents English instead of the other way around.

For a special treat listen to Joseph’s mesmerizing, almost mystical Gypsy music, which he plays beautifully on his Fender acoustic guitar. The songs can be heard at: 32:56, 36:47, 1:02:58.  

“I would like to forget,” Joseph told me, “but I cannot“. How does one forget such a difficult personal history. So instead, Joseph moves forward with those memories, strengthening himself, and his family, knowing that the freedom they now have is the most significant gift of their lives. This episode is a story about a courageous and inspirational family man who fought for his fellow Roma, Timea, Lulu and himself so that one day he could be a regular guy, walking the streets of Toronto, tilting his head toward the daylight, and loving every day,  every minute, every second. Have a listen. You will love Joseph and his story and so appreciate what it means to be free.

HatRadio! The show that schmoozes.

Listen on ITUNES

Listen on PODBEAN