"Ever since I started middle school I have been bullied by my peers because of the lunches I would bring to school," Elizabeth Kari said. "My mom who's Pinoy, was always proud of the food she made for me."
It is the pain nearly every Asian American has carried all their lives, but usually never spoken out loud.
So Kari, the daughter of the hate crime victim viscously attacked in Hell's Kitchen, wants to provide comfort in that darkness -- a place these days she is all too familiar with.
"In some moments thankful. In some moments exhausted. In some moments confused," Kari said.
Her mother, somehow, is physically recovering. But her psychological healing has barely begun.
Kari's mother still almost never leaves the house, so a safe space from anti-Asian hate is what Kari created.
The online project is called AAP(I belong).
Her mother's assailant told her "you don't belong here," before savagely attacking her.
"I wanted it to be anonymous where people could have this sense of catharsis and share and on the flip side if there's people out there who aren't willing to share but maybe they read the stories of someone else with a similar encounter, they'll feel less alone," Kari said.
"Growing up in a strict Catholic Filipino home especially just within the Asian community, mental health isn't as big as it should be, as it could be. I always suppress my emotions," Joel Relampagos said.
Relampagos is a television executive producer and founder of the mental wellness company 'Change Your Algorithm.'
They have an online program offering free therapy, that's being used today around the world.
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While Relampagos is based in Los Angeles, the Hell's Kitchen attack hit close to home.
"That could've been my mom," he said.
Both Relampagos and Kari are now trying to harness the healing power of community -- forming now from Los Angeles to New York, in response to hate.
Kari is even bridging a generational divide when it comes to talking about mental health.
"It's a difficult conversation when respecting your elders but also wanting to push them into something uncomfortable for themselves," Kari said.
But by doing so they are understating their own family's history, by sharing their experiences with hate.
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AAP(I belong) hopes to have as many submissions as they can get by this Sunday.
Then the website will go up, so those voices can be heard.
Then the plan is to print some of those submissions and display them in a pop-up gallery somewhere in the city so those stories can then be seen.
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