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‘I am healing each day’: Filipina senior attacked in NY shares road to recovery

Vilma Kari | Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kari/GoFundMe

FILIPINA American Vilma Kari is on the path of recovery nearly a month after she was brutally attacked in New York City.

In an interview with ABC7 New York, 65-year-old Kari talked about the incident that left her with serious injuries, including a fractured pelvis and forehead contusions.

“It’s so surreal watching that incident and looking at myself being attacked,” she told ABC7 on Thursday, April 22.

Kari, a Filipina immigrant who settled in Chicago and became widowed in 2012, was staying with her daughter Elizabeth in New York City when the unprovoked attack happened.

She was walking to church in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the morning of March 29 when the suspect, later identified as Brandon Elliot, assaulted her and knocked her to the ground.

The attack was captured by a CCTV camera, showing Elliot kicking Kari several times in the head before walking away. He reportedly told her, “You don’t belong here,” according to the police.

Elizabeth shared that her friends started forwarding her videos later that evening after she came home from the hospital.

“I had to look at it a few times and just think, that’s the outfit, this kind of matches what I heard her tell me. And then I really had it all sink in in one moment, and just almost had a little bit of a panic attack,” she said.

“I remember sitting next to my boyfriend and just crying on my sofa, saying, ‘But that’s my mom. How is this possible? This is my mom. And just shaking and not knowing what to do,” she continued.

Elizabeth on March 31 started a GoFundMe page for her mother that has since raised over $260,000.

“I’m doing well, feeling well, getting better each day, getting better each day,” said Kari.

She also spoke about the surge in violence and hate against Asians in the United States, stressing that the color of one’s skin shouldn’t make them a target.

“I am healing each day and only hope that this incident will continue to bring greater awareness to the racism and hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community,” Kari said.

Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks anti-Asian American discrimination, reported that from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, it has received 3,795 firsthand incidents of racism and discrimination from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Of that number, 503 incidents took place in the first two months of 2021 alone.

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