Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2017 Contents life
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CHARLES KONG SOO
Caron Asgarali almost
lost her life in a failed
carjacking. On that
fateful night of January 29, 2013,
while she was sitting in the pas-
senger seat of her Toyota Corolla
car which was driven by a friend,
two masked gunmen alighted
from their car, flanked her ve-
hicle when it was parked along
the Southern Main Road, La Ro-
maine, and one gunman opened
fire hitting her in the face.
The near fatal incident was a
life-altering experience, transform-
ing Asgarali forever.
The deadly encounter also pro-
vided the impetus for her new career
path several years later.
Today, Asgarali is an author, edu-
cator, inspirational and motivational
speaker who advocates for an end to
gun violence and speaks about her
experience at local and international
Suffering massive blood loss and
in shock, Asgarali was rushed to
the San Fernando General Hospi-
tal where she later learned the full
extent of her injuries. She was shot
in her face, chest and right shoulder,
her chin was completely blown away,
her jaw was shattered and her tongue
was partially detached by the impact
of the bullet.
Asgarali, 51, also sustained cuts to
her face as a result of shrapnel from
the bullet and glass fragments.
She also had a nasogastric tube
inserted through her nose, past her
throat, feeding her liquid nutrients
directly into her stomach.
In the doctors’ haste to try and
save Asgarali’s life that night they
made a tracheostomy, a surgical
procedure to create an opening
through her neck into the trachea
or windpipe as quickly as possible
to prevent her from choking on her
partially detached tongue. Asgarali
said, however, the insertion was in
the wrong direction, vertical instead
of horizontal, and she bears a barely
As her jaw was wired shut, she
could not speak, eat solid food, drugs
were administered intravenously
and she communicated by writing.
Several painful procedures were
done, a hip graft was used to provide
bone for Asgarali’s jaw, skin for her
shoulder graft was for her chin, and
a split skin graft from the left thigh
was used to cover her shoulder.
She sometimes experiences flash-
backs of the attack which can be
triggered by her coming to a stop by a
traffic light, sitting in a car or seeing
people vending, wiping windows or
She was later diagnosed and treat-
ed for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress
Asgarali said “It redefines what is
important in life after you go through
something like that, your whole per-
spective of everything changes.
“Prior to the incident, I was phys-
ically fit, running 5ks. This, coupled
with my faith in God, helped me heal
pretty quickly, faster than the doc-
They projected that I would spend
six months in ICU, I was there for
three days and they said I would be
a year in the hospital; but I was there
for one month.
“Being mentally strong came
from the running where you had to
depend on yourself, training and
“I had to start gradually walking
at first from five minutes and even-
tually built up my endurance to run
in my first half marathon in August
Since the incident, the former
chemistry teacher at San Fernando
Central Secondary (Mod Sec) in San
Fernando, with 22 years experience,
has kept busy.
She hosts events bringing experts
to speak about gun violence, gives
motivational talks herself about
her story to share different ways to
promote peace and non violence to
steer young people away from crime.
Asgarali said part of the problem
with crime and violence relating
to young people was that they did
not have coping skills, how they
may react to the slightest affront
or challenge in anger and violence.
She is also the author of three
motivational books—From Lion to
Lamb: A Spiritual Journey, Gen-
tly Powerful Personal Prayers and
Bounce Back Better: 10 (+1) Key
Steps for Building Resilience and
is the founder of the programme
Raising Awareness of the Ripple
Effects of Gun Violence (RARE) to
create awareness of the devastating
effects of gun violence.
Asgarali’s life journey has taken
her to countries such as South Af-
rica where she was invited to share
her experience at the Pathways to
Resilience IV conference on her
topic: “Resilience in the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago: A Caribbean
Response to Crime, Sudden Violence
and Personal Devastation” in June
15 and the Christian Chamber of
Commerce in Miami, Florida, USA,
in March 2015.
She had also spoken at women’s
group Another Eve’s Women of
Strength event at Kapok Hotel, St
Clair, on July 8, gave her moving
testimony at the San Fernando Gen-
eral Hospital’s observance of World
Mental Health Day at Gulf City, La
Romaine, on October 1, 2016.
Asgarali said a new mental health
organization will be launched on Au-
gust 4 with the support of the South-
West Regional Health Authority and
she will be participating in the event.
“Prior to the incident, I was physically fit, running 5ks. This, coupled
with my faith in God, helped me heal pretty quickly, faster than the
doctors anticipated. They projected that I would spend six months in
ICU, I was there for three days and they said I would be a year in the
hospital; but I was there for one month."
Caron Asgarali. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
Caron Asgarali following her participation in a half marathon in 2015.
...the face of courage
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