Music and strength connect two high schoolers from across the world who have endured incredible loss

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Madison Square Garden will be rockin’ tonight as some very special kids will be going to a once in a lifetime prom. All put on through the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

PIX11’s Ellyn marks sat down with two high school seniors who never imagined being part of a night like this after everything they’ve been through.

They come from different parts of the world, but 18-year-old Ngawang Tseten, from India, and 19-year-old Ahmed Shareef, from Iraq, couldn't be closer.

“There’s a connection, nothing can get in between," Shareef smiled.

They formed an unbreakable bond four and a half years ago through a shared passion for music.

"After a performance we always tell each other, good job man, you did great!” Tseten said.

But it was a mutual drive to push past their disabilities that first brought them together.

“One day I was walking home from school during the war in 2003, and I end up walking into a bomb explosion," Shareef remembered. "I ended up losing my right arm, and my sight.”

For Ngawang, life changed back in 2011, when a kite he was flying got tangled up in a tree. While trying to retrieve it, the metal pole he was using touched live wire and he was badly burned.

"They took me to the hospital, and I had to make a decision, whether I should amputate my arms or die," Tseten described.

Through the Global Medical Relief Fund, the teens received extensive treatment for their severe injuries at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia.

"Back then, I was very insecure about how I looked but coming over here, people treat you like a normal person," Tseten smiled. "I'm more confident in myself."

Ngawang's mom is like a mom to Ahmed too. The three live together on Staten Island, so they always have each other to lean on.

“Disability isn't going to stop us," Shareef said.

"He has my hand, and I have his eye basically," Tseten added.

Additional support has come from the Children's Aid Society and the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

"I was worried about how I was going to pay for college, and the Children's Aid Society told us about the Garden of Dreams, and I applied for the scholarship," he said. "I had no clue it was going to be this big."

Garden of Dreams is also providing an all-expenses paid prom, and Ahmed is sure enjoying the attention he's getting from his date.

“She said the color for my tie is red because her dress is red," Shareef grinned. "And my favorite color is red, so it was good, red is the color of love!"

And the love these guys have for music and each other couldn't have been more clear then during their performance on the grand stafe of Radio City Music Hall. From a packed house to an audience of one, they give it their all.

Ngawang and Ahmed will be graduating next month. In the Fall, they'll begin a new chapter together, at the College of Staten Island. Ngawang will be getting $10,000 a a year in scholarship money, a total of $40,000. All thanks to the Garden of Dreams Foundation.


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi

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