Charity seeks help for ‘devastated’ children of Sterling Heights couple killed by virus

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Charles E. Ramirez The Detroit News
Troy — A Chaldean-American charity has begun a fundraiser for a Metro Detroit family that lost both parents to COVID-19.Nameer and Nada Ayram

United Community Family Services/Chaldean American Ladies of Charity is collecting donations to help the family with expenses.

“We’re going to help them out with whatever they need,” said Renee Yaldo, chairwoman of the charity’s board.

The group said it first learned about the family in March when Nameer and Nada Ayram were both critically ill with COVID-19. The two were on ventilators at different hospitals while their three children, a 20-year-old son, and two daughters, ages 18 and 13, were at their Sterling Heights home.

Yaldo said a friend of the Ayram family who works with the charity told the group about the children’s predicament.

Initially, the charity contacted school counselors, social workers and volunteers to help the Ayrams’ children, the group said. It also solicited donors to help with groceries and basic household necessities.

But Nada Ayram, 46, died April 21, according to the charity and a funeral home. Her husband, Nameer Ayram, 52, died Monday — about 20 days after Nada, the nonprofit and his online obituary said.

Nada’s online obituary listed their children’s names as Nashwan, Nadeen and Nanssy. Her funeral service was April 23 and Nameer’s service will be held at noon Wednesday at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Troy. 

Since the death of both parents, their oldest son, Nashwan, is left to take on the responsibility of paying the family’s bills and looking after his younger siblings, the nonprofit said.

“They’re not doing well,” Yaldo said. “Nash is devastated and the girls are not taking it well. I mean, they lost both of their parents within weeks of each other. They had no idea the day their parents left would be the last time they would see them.”

To help the family, the charity is raising money for a special fund called “FRIENDS OF NASH.” Donations are being collected through the charity’s website.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the three children were not granting interviews or making comment about their parents’ deaths.

She said Nameer and Nada fled Iraq and came to the United States in 2012. Yaldo said Nameer worked for an auto supplier and Nada was a homemaker. Their children have no close relatives in the Metro Detroit area. Founded in 1961 and based in Troy, the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity supports the needy as well as refugees and immigrant families. In 2016, it added United Community Family Services to its name to reflect its focus. 

There’s also a GoFundMe page for the family organized by family friends that set a $100,000 goal and raised more than $110,000 since April.

Yaldo said the charity hasn’t set a goal for its fundraiser for the Ayram family.

“We can’t put a number on it and we don’t have a goal because, honestly, what is going to be the goal for the rest of these kids’ lives?” she asked.

“It’s going to be an ongoing thing,” Yaldo said. “We thought it was something that was going to help the family pay bills for the next year or so while their parents recovered. Now the goal is to get all three of the kids to adulthood.”

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez