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Nepalis in Chicago raising money to help earthquake victims

Nepalis in Chicago began working Saturday to raise money to help victims of the earthquake that devastated Nepal, killing more than 1,800 people and leveling homes and centuries-old temples.

“We have to do something,” said Tek Kc of the Chicagoland Nepali Friendship Society.

Kc, 36, a cab driver, said he was able to reach relatives by phone and on Facebook.

“I couldn’t sleep all night,” he said.

Nepali community members planned to gather Sunday to make a fund-raising plan, said Bala Ghimire, the owner of the restaurants Chicago Curry House and Nepal House.

Ghimire, 45, said people who want to help can contact his restaurants or email curryhouse2008@gmail.com.

“We are feeling shocked,” said the West Rogers Park businessman.“It’s really, really bad.”

He said his relatives escaped the earthquake unharmed, but their homes in Kathmandu were destroyed.

The Nepali American Center has set up a link to accept monetary donations for earthquake relief.

“There are a lot of people that are still scared,” said Beni Madhav Kandel, 41,  president of the Chicagoland Nepali Friendship Society. “It’s still not safe.”

Tens of thousands of people in Nepal slept outside in the chilly air — afraid to go inside following the 7.8 magnitude quake that that hit Saturday afternoon and was followed by aftershocks.

Kandel said the Nepali community in Chicago is robust — with a majority of the people living in Edgewater and in Mount Prospect and other suburbs.

About 1,100 Nepalis live in Illinois, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2006-2010.

Contributing: The Associated Press