From Hell To Heaven
Refugee Family Finds Reward and Peace In The Land of the Free

GUINDA, CALIFORNIA, October 24, 2008 --- Competing October 18 in the annual California State Grange Talent Contest, a family of Liberian refugees celebrated their salvation through traditional dance, spirited by the thunderous rhythms of African drums.

Charged by their rousing performance, the panel of eight judges rewarded the Tarlesson family "Best In Show" out of sixteen finalist acts entered in the contest held at the Sacramento Holiday Inn Northeast.

With the win, the Tarlesson family of sixteen dancers and drummers are eligible to represent the California State Grange at the National Grange competition November 15 in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Therein lies the problem. The California Grange never anticipated sponsoring such a large group traveling to Connecticut. Only $1,800 has been collected and allocated for this purpose. With sixteen family members, travel and lodging expenses are estimated at $7,000. The Tarlesson's home Grange, the Western Yolo Grange in Guinda, California is taking up the cause and asking for donations to make it happen.

More impressive than their captivating dance is the Tarlessons' remarkable journey from a war-torn Liberia to a fifty acre farm in Guinda that they now call home. Theirs is a sobering story of courage, sacrifice and perseverance, bringing perspective to the family's new life in the land of the free.

On little more than instincts and faith, the Tarlessons survived four years hiding in the jungles and refugee camps of Liberia and Cote d'lvoire on the Gold Coast of Africa, trying to escape the atrocities of civil war. They were constantly on the move, scavenging for food, seeking shelter, and battling disease. Babies were birthed under trees. Many of their family and friends were murdered by rebels.

From hell to heaven, twenty-six surviving family members managed to immigrate to the United States in 2005, many of them children. An eighteen minute video of their ordeal can be viewed online at:

The family credits their devout Christian faith for their survival and good fortune. In 2006, Grandfather Roosevelt Tarlesson established the Gospel Africa Mission at a church in Guinda.

The civil war in Liberia ended in 2003 but theTarlessons haven't forgotten the people of their homeland.

"Humanitarian service is a big part of our work and we are determined to help the Liberian refugees who are returning home from camps to re-start their lives," promises Roosevelt.

Through donations of money and goods, the Tarlessons and Gospel Africa Mission have managed to fill six metal sea containers with medical supplies, textbooks, farming equipment and building materials. They are raising money to send the containers to Liberia.

The Tarlesson family has performed traditional Africa dance and Gospel music for the University of California and the Mondavi Center for the Arts. The group hires out for $600 per performance. Roosevelt Tarlesson can be contacted at (530) 796-2170 or via email at

The Western Yolo Grange is collecting donations to send the Tarlessons to the National Grange Talent Competition November 15 in Cromwell, Connecticut. Time is of the essence.

To make a donation, send your check to Western Yolo Grange, 7909 Hwy 16, Brooks, CA 95606. If we arenít able to make our target to send the family to Connecticut, the funds will be used to help them with their mission to send the goods to Liberia or we will return your check if you so request. For more information, phone Western Yolo Grange Lecturer Trudie Martin at (530) 796-3312 or email her at

The Grange has served the people of California for 140 years. Currently there are 10,000 members in 180 communities across the state.