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Bosnian family finds haven in Waynesboro

October 07, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Edo Menegoni, his wife, Elvira, and their daughter, Romano, 6, came to Waynesboro in July, three of more than 20,000 residents from war-torn Bosnia coming to the United States this year as political refugees.

Bosnians are among the more than 78,000 refugees from around the world being allowed into the United States in 1997 by the Department of State, said Alan Dudley, director of refugee services for Tressler Lutheran Services of Mechanicsburg, Pa. The agency brought the Menegonis to Waynesboro.

"Most come to this country with nothing but their suitcases. We help to get them off to a good start," Dudley said.

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Tressler recruits church groups and citizens to help settle the refugees, Dudley said. He said about 200 Bosnian refugees have been settled in South Central Pennsylvania, including about 20 in Franklin County in recent years.

The Menegonis arrived in the United States on July 21, went first to New York, then Pittsburgh, then finally to Waynesboro. Their connection was a cousin, Almasa Ziga, who immigrated last year. She asked for help to get them here, said Mary Delaney of Waynesboro, the Menegonis' mentor.

Ziga lives in the same downtown apartment building as the Menegonis.

Delaney said many church congregations, other organizations and residents have helped the Menegoni family settle in.

The Menegonis said their country's civil war has cost them their home, belongings and the lives of Elvira's brother and three of Edo's uncles. Elvira left first to get her young daughter out of danger. She moved to Germany. It took Edo three years to join his wife and daughter.

Delaney said volunteers have found the Menegonis an apartment, furniture, clothing, food and jobs. A local church youth group painted the apartment.

The family speaks several European languages, but are struggling with English. Their daughter, a first-grader at Summitview Elementary School in Waynesboro, is learning faster.

Edo Menegoni, 32, is an offset printer by trade, a job he wants to get back into when his English improves. He said he's willing to learn and is a hard worker. Elvira, 34, hopes one day to finish her studies in veterinary medicine.

For now the couple is content with the part-time jobs they have at the local Martin's Food Market.

Pam Warnick, customer service manager at Martins, said the Menegonis are good workers. Elvira works in the bakery and Edo is a bagger.

"No one else was willing to give them a job. I don't understand that," Warnick said.

Warnick gave Ziga a job when she first came to Waynesboro. Ziga went on to take a full-time custodial job at a local church and has since gotten a permanent job with Grove Worldwide.

The Menegonis' apartment reflects the family's pride. It is neat, orderly and clean. Family photos and their wedding pictures decorate a living room table.

Old customs are valued.

"I cook about four hours a day. I make every day bread," Elvira said. Her recipes are those of the old country, she said. "Food there is not like anything you've eaten," she said.

She misses Bosnia and would like to return for a visit one day. Her husband vows never to go back.

"My home is here. When I get to be very good English talker I want to become citizen," he said struggling with his new language.

Dudley said refugees like the Menegonis can apply for a green card, which will make them legal permanent residents. They can apply for citizenship after five years, he said.

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