Welcome to the promised land, Gonpo. From the New York Times, June 23 (emphasis added):
From Tibet to New York, a Youth Now Faces a Long Journey to Recovery
Gonpo Dorjee, 16, arrived in America on May 26. But he has seen little of his new home, New York City. The sights he sees most often are a small swath of the East River and part of the industrial skyline of Greenpoint, Brooklyn — the view from the window of his room at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.
Gonpo, a native of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, had been in New York close to two weeks when he and his mother went for a walk on the morning of June 8 near their home in Sunnyside, Queens. They had planned to go shopping. At a traffic light on Queens Boulevard at 47th Street, they stood on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the wide, busy boulevard.
His mother, Nyiga Tenzin Nordon, told him to be cautious. “I said: ‘This is Queens Boulevard. It’s a very dangerous place, so anytime you cross this street you have to be careful,'” she said.
Seconds later, before they even tried to cross, she heard a loud boom. In this city of collisions, everything — car frames, healthy bones, peace of mind — can shatter in an instant.
A red Jeep Cherokee with Florida license plates collided with a silver Honda Civic, and the impact sent the Honda over the curb and into a pole, striking Gonpo, Ms. Nordon and two other pedestrians.
Gonpo’s right leg was crushed below the knee, and he was taken to Bellevue. The driver of the Jeep sped away. Gonpo remains at Bellevue, in his room on the eighth floor, on his bed, not saying much, not even to his mother. The police say the driver of the Jeep caused the accident.
Ms. Nordon, 35, says she often thinks about the driver. The police have yet to capture him. “He just left like that,” she said. “He’s not a human being. No matter what, he should have stopped.”
She sleeps next to her son, her only child, and knows the hospital well. Her mother was recently found to have liver cancer and had been hospitalized off and on at Bellevue. For nearly a week in June, her son recuperated on the eighth floor while her mother was treated on the 15th.
Gonpo comes from a family of Tibetan immigrants who have known both success and struggle. Ms. Nordon’s sister is Yungchen Lhamo, one of the world’s most popular Tibetan singers. Ms. Lhamo, who lives with Ms. Nordon in an apartment in Sunnyside, records for Real World Records.
In 2003, when she first came to the United States, Ms. Nordon began working with immigration officials to have Gonpo join her in New York. She was granted political asylum in 2005. She said Gonpo’s father was murdered because of his political beliefs in Tibet, which the Chinese have occupied since the 1950s. Gonpo never knew his father because when he was killed Gonpo was 3 weeks old.
Gonpo had been living in a boarding school in India, waiting to reunite with his mother and the rest of the family. Before he arrived in New York, he had not seen his mother in about two years. “I was so excited,” she said of seeing her son again. “He’s here. The whole family was so excited.”
Now, she leans by him as he lies on his hospital bed, whispering in his ear, behind her a framed picture of Gonpo at 14, smiling.
On Wednesday, she returned to Queens Boulevard for the first time since the accident. She was shaking. A friend helped her cross at 38th Street. “I couldn’t walk,” she said. “I couldn’t walk.”
Years ago, Queens Boulevard had become such a treacherous place for pedestrians that it earned the nickname the Boulevard of Death. From 1993 to 2000, 70 pedestrians were killed on the boulevard. The number of pedestrian deaths has since decreased significantly: There were two in 2005, two in 2006 and none so far in 2007, according to the city’s Department of Transportation.
Ms. Nordon cleans hotel rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square on Eighth Avenue, but she has not returned to work since her son was injured. Gonpo cannot walk. He is in stable condition as he waits for both plastic and orthopedic surgeries next week, said Dr. Lori Legano, one of Gonpo’s doctors.
“What’s encouraging is that he doesn’t have signs of infection,” Dr. Legano said.
Ms. Nordon worries about the bills and health insurance. She said she is unsure, since her son just arrived in New York, if her health insurance will cover his medical bills. Her mother, she said, does not have insurance. A fund was established in Gonpo’s name to help the family with medical and other expenses (The Gonpo Dorjee Fund, P.O. Box 716, Lake Katrine, N.Y. 12449).
At least this sort of thing still makes the newspapers. How long before it becomes so common and we are so desensitized that the press ceases to notice? How much longer before such coverage is completely eclipsed by that of terrorism—which is considered worse despite that fact that cars claim far more lives? The violence of the automobile is also worse than that of terrorism because it is so insidious—it is viewed as morally neutral “transportation,” not a systematic culture of death.
See more reasons WHY WE FIGHT.