“It’s been hard,” Jennifer Jones of Hahnville said with profound sadness in her voice of the tragic loss of her 10-year-old daughter, Jaliyah. “We just buried her over the weekend.”
Until it happened, this was unthinkable for the single mother, who lived out every parent’s worst nightmare in early August when Jaliyah was hospitalized after suffering a seizure in her home. Doctors could not save her, the cause of her death found to be a brain aneurysm.
Jones said her son told her that Jaliyah had complained about headaches earlier in the day. He was home with his sister as their mother shopped for groceries, and when Jones arrived home, Jaliyah was having a seizure.
“I called 911 immediately,” Jones said. “(Once at the hospital) doctors said blood was getting around her brain, and fluid. Her blood pressure had dropped very low. She was slowly going.”
Jones said Jaliyah’s death came out of nowhere.
“I don’t have a clue. I don’t understand,” Jones said. “She was playing outside (earlier in the day) that Saturday before it happened, just like she always does. She just took sick all of a sudden.”
As much of a toll as her loss took on Jones and her family emotionally, another blow was dealt financially as the family didn’t have insurance. Initially, there wasn’t enough money to cover a proper burial and funeral service for Jaliyah.
Once people in the community began to learn of Jaliyah’s story, many offered help. Jones’ church, First Assembly of God in Des Allemands, recently held a fish fry fundraiser to help the family cover costs of Jaliyah’s funeral and burial.
First Assembly Pastor Paul Dufrene said the church sold 210 plates and raised almost $2,500 to help the family, and said Jones had attended services and worshiped at the church for more than three years.
“She’s a single mom and we had helped her with groceries from time to time,” Dufrene said. “I got the call and learned about it that Sunday morning. It was definitely something we felt we needed to do.”
Dufrene said that once the church posted about the event on its Facebook page, support began rolling in. He said it wasn’t long at all until he received a call from Sonny Savoie, School Board representative for District 4, as well as others from the school system and in the community.
“It was an overwhelming response and it was awesome,” Dufrene said. “It’s what the church is all about.”
“She was a Mama’s girl. She loved to play sports, basketball and football. She loved her friends and she loved to share.”- Jennifer Jones
Constable Donnie White of District 4 coordinated with social services and secured additional help for the family to take care of the funeral service, and he said that he will keep in communication with Jones if more assistance is needed.
“Once Sonny called me, and I learned of the situation, then it was time to do what I had to do to help,” White said. “We’re gonna be there for her. If she reaches out to me, we’re gonna be there for her and see what we can do.”
Savoie said the assistance provided to help the family with the funeral showed how the people of the community are willing to step up and help one another, but that more aid could be needed.
“The hospital bills, for the ambulance … that starts coming in about 30 days, and then you’ll know,” Savoie said. “They had no insurance … I’d say right now, nobody knows how the expenses will break down … community support is going to have to pull her through this.”
A neighbor of the family also posted a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/donations-for-jaleah) titled Donations for Jaliyah Jones to help the family with costs.
Jaliyah was a student at R.J. Vial through fourth grade and was about to start her fifth grade year at Allemands Elementary.
Jones said her daughter was a fun, sweet and loving person who loved to spend time with her friends.
“She was a Mama’s girl,” Jones said. “She loved to play sports, basketball and football. She loved her friends and she loved to share.”
The mother said Jones was elated to be starting the fifth grade, and also that she had an artistic side.
“She loved to build things with Legos, to color and draw,” Jones said.