Sharon Jargba and Family
A Diary of our Refugee Family Sponsored by St. Luke’s


January 2, 2004
January 1, 2004

January 1, 2004  

Happy New Year everyone! 

Today, New Year's Day, Marie Thomas and her family hosted the Jargba's at their house. Thanks, Marie and Brian! 

Sharon shared with Marie some more about what happened to them in Liberia . Sharon 's parents and a friend were killed by the rebels. The rebels would come to the villages at night to destroy everything and kill the people. Sharon 's whole village near the mountains in Liberia was burned down. Sharon and others escaped and traveled to the Peace Camp in the Ivory Coast for 1 month. Comfort cried along the way and Sharon carried Grace on her back. It is still very dangerous in Liberia . Sharon has a sister in the refugee camp but does not know if her 2 brothers are alive, and, as you know, has second-hand information that her husband is somewhere in Liberia. Sharon and her family must have been through more than we can imagine! 

At the Thomas' house, Brian taught Roland and Comfort how to ride bicycles. They had a nice meal, including a roast and rice. (Marie noted that the children did not eat much, which is unusual. She had noticed that they seemed to be eating a lot of candy at home. We should probably all encourage Sharon to give them only small amounts).  

After lunch, both families went on a hike at Deer Creek Park . Grace really enjoyed walking on the trail! On their hike, they saw deer. Sharon said they had deer in Liberia - they hunted deer and ate dried deer meat. 

Sharon was worried about her finances today. I told her everything is fine. We are paying the rent this week. I went over her finances in detail. This is a summary of the budget I wrote out for her:

Income: $725 per month

Expenses: Rent $545 (due at the beginning of the month); Phone $25; Heat $70; Cash $85 for items not covered by food stamps, African market, clothing. St. Luke's will be helping with items not covered by food stamps.  

Sharon now really wants to go to work and earn her own money. Marie and I told her that right now, she needs to learn English well and take care of Grace. I will tell Genevieve at ERS about "Work Options for Women," which trains women for jobs in the food service industry. In the meantime, Marie and I thought maybe she could do occasion housekeeping jobs for us at St. Luke's to get some extra spending money. We are also hoping that if Sharon gets into affordable housing in Arapahoe (or Adams) county with some other women from Liberia (in about 6 months), she can get help with child care while she works. 

Today Marie went over child safety with Sharon , particularly about leaving the children alone and the danger of kidnapping. She also put the thermostat down to a little above 60 degrees and advised Sharon to keep it between 60 and 70 degrees to keep the heating bill down. 

Sharon has enough household stuff and clothes for now. I am not bringing over any new donations right now. Anyone who visits the family should check the supplies of milk, OJ, bread, fruit, toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex and soap and ask Sharon if there is anything she needs. However, it appears that some of the children are expecting something new every time we are with them! 

On Tuesday, December 30, Jan, Marie and I met to talk about teaching Sharon English and other logistics. 

We will start regular English lessons for Sharon every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is in lieu of the English classes that refugees normally go to in downtown Denver because of difficulty finding childcare for Grace. 

Monday will be with Marie and Laurie (Gilbert) and Wednesday with Jan. Friday will be with either Betsy or other volunteers, such as Caroline Merchant. We can consider teaching an additional day if we would not be preventing Sharon from developing more independence (kind of a Catch-22). 

Jan talked with an ESL teacher, who recommended starting with Rebus sentences, which are very simple sentences that incorporate labeled pictures in them. Examples: I see a tree; I see an apple. We should use words in categories such as food, number words (1-10), colors, clothing, household items, family members. Jan will teach the children how to call 911. 

When people go over to teach English, if occasionally they have time to take Sharon somewhere to run an errand or just get out of the house it would be good. Sharon needs to get out. 

This Sunday, the 4th, we will be passing out fliers at church to solicit volunteers to sign up to supply Sharon with items not covered by food stamps, such as diapers. We will have a poster where people can sign up for an item for 1 or more months. We will also have a jar for monetary donations and grocery certificates. We worked out with Bonnie where the money will be stored. Jan will talk with Tammy Heister about a Jargba account for depositing donated checks. 

On Monday, January 5, Jan and Charlie will take the children to visit their new school, Whiteman. In the afternoon, we will take the family to their first doctor's appointment. Tuesday, Jan. 6 will be their first day of school. Jan Rufien, Jan Stull and Judy and Bill Dearsaugh will be helping Sharon take the children to the busstop and pick them up - Tuesday through Thursday. If you would like to help out on Friday, please let me or Jan Rufien know. 

Other business:

* Sharon really wants to come to church. Betsy will ask Amy Holton of the UMW if the UMW can help with rides. Also, we will look into whether there is a Methodist Church close to Sharon that would like to help us.

* Sharon would like non-cartoon videos.

*Jan will be out of town January 16-February 3. She will ask her daughter if she could cover for her on Wednesdays.

*Marie will be out of town February 18-March 17.

*Jan will ask Mohammed if he could press the apartment manager about getting Sharon her mailbox key. If the Social Security card does not come next week, I will need to take Sharon back to the Lakewood office to look into it. We need to track down Sharon 's Medicaid card, too. 

Sharon recently asked if there is anything we can do to find out if her brothers are alive. One brother's name is Julian Jargba. I left a message with Gordana at ERS to see if there is anything we can do. 

Lots more news coming - Jan is visiting tomorrow (Friday), the family is coming to church on Sunday and next week will be exciting!  

January 2, 2004  

Today Jan, Charlie, daughter and grandchildren walked with Sharon and family to the local park, Verbena Park at 12th and Verbena. The kids all had a great time on the playground equipment! Afterward they went to lunch at McDonalds.  

Jan tried to pay the rent with a check from my new account, but the manager would not take a check without the name printed on it. (I only have starter checks). So we need to get a money order. Still no progress on the mailbox key. Jan and I are learning so much about the hassles people have to go through to get through life in this country!