Michigan House approves new incentive programs amid business warnings

Metro Detroiters work to help Nepal from home

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

As the death toll from the earthquake in Nepal rises and more devastation is reported, Dr. Richard Keidan is eager to head back and help out.

The surgical oncologist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak is the director and founder of the Detroit2Nepal Foundation, or D2N. The West Bloomfield Township-based group aims to improve health care, public health and educational opportunities for children in Nepal as well as Metro Detroit.

Saturday’s quake has either destroyed the work his group has pursued there or significantly damaged its efforts, but until he and others can fully assess the damage up close, “it’s too early to tell” the extent or determine all that is needed to move forward, Keidan said.

On May 8, his foundation is partnering with Bedrock Real Estate Services and Quicken Loans for “Over the Edge Detroit,” a group fundraiser in which participants gather donations of at least $1,000 to rappel down the city’s First National Building.

Now, in the earthquake’s aftermath, half of the proceeds are going to disaster relief efforts in the rural, more isolated areas of Nepal where D2N works, Keidan said. Donors can also choose to earmark part of their contribution for affiliated initiatives by Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program or have 100 percent go toward the Nepal aid. To donate: http://detroit2nepal.org.

“Our disaster relief fund is (aimed) directly at these peripheral villages, which really are without help,” Keidan said.

As charities, nonprofits and other groups worldwide rush to pour aid into Nepal, others in Metro Detroit are working to help the cause from home.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is collecting funds for Catholic Relief Services, which is working with partner Caritas Nepal to support 10,000 families with emergency shelter, blankets, water treatment kits and hygiene kits, officials said Tuesday.

Donations also may be made online at www.aod.org/crs or mailing checks to: The Archdiocese of Detroit, CRS Nepal Earthquake Relief (3rd Floor), 12 State Street, Detroit, MI 48226.

Meanwhile, the Himalayan Bazaar in Ann Arbor, a store that sells imports, gifts and gear from that country, is collecting donations for Education Elevated. The Colorado-based nonprofit is working to rebuild three school buildings, toilets on the school grounds and homes in Chyangba, a village where store founder Pem Dorjee Sherpa grew up, said Gerri Kier, the group’s founder and president.

On a GoFundMe page for the effort to raise some $40,000, Sherpa wrote: “Luckily no lives were lost in the Chyangba Village. But the school buildings in the village are a complete loss, 4-5 homes are lost and all homes suffered damage.” More than $7,220 had been raised by early Thursday.

While no deaths have been reported in that village and damage still needs to be fully assessed, “it will probably take a while to get over all the shock,” Kier said. “Let’s give them hope that we’re going to move forward.”

Sherpa, who lives in Ann Arbor and recently became a U.S. citizen, has been leading tours in Nepal since 1995. He said he hopes to reach the country as soon as possible.

Now, the focus is not so much emergency needs but a long-term plan for people who have few financial resources, he said. “It’s really important for the families. They don’t want to disappear from their villages.”

Meanwhile, Sherpa said the Nepalese community in Ann Arbor has contributed some $2,500 for medical care in Kathmandu. “People have been so supportive and helping.”

To support the Education Elevated/Himalayan Bazaar effort, go to www.gofundme.com/chyangbavillage; send a donation to Education Elevated, 225 Beacon Hill Drive, Lafayette CO 80026; or go to www.educationelevated.org.

Metro Detroit’s Kensington Church is backing a global partner, Kingdom Investment Nepal, which, according to its website, aims to end human trafficking in that nation. While the group’s ministry “areas are safe and accounted for,” church official Steve Andrews wrote in an email Tuesday night, “there has been some damage to one of the safe houses. As well, the homes of four of the KI Nepal staff members have been destroyed.”

This week, a group leader and his team traveled from Kathmandu to the village of Gorkha, Andrews wrote. “He said when they arrived all of the homes in the village were flattened and families — men, women and children — were standing in the pouring rain with no place to take cover.

“Ramesh and the KI Nepal team are trying to reach many of the villages in the impacted region where the girls that they’ve rescued now live. They expect to find many of them without homes, vulnerable to the elements and to people looking to take advantage of them during the chaos. KI Nepal is committed to keeping these girls (and families) safe.”

Through text message giving, the Kensington effort has received more than $40,000 this week, according to the email from Andrews.

To donate, text the amount you’d like to give and “Kensington Nepal” to 45777 or go to www.KensingtonChurch.org/giving/nepal.