Hana el Abdallaoui, a member of Islamic Relief’s emergency team in Morocco, describes the plight and perseverance of people in the aftermath of Friday’s powerful earthquake.
The Islamic Relief team spent last night in Chichaoua, around 80km from Marrakech city. There were 2 aftershocks during the night, but fortunately none of us felt them.
The humanitarian needs here are enormous, and there is much to do. So the team woke up early, splitting into 2 groups.
One group started the day meeting with the Red Crescent, before making their way to Amizmiz, an area very close to the epicentre of Friday’s magnitude 6.8 earthquake. They found Amizmiz covered in debris and buildings flattened. Rescuers were working around the clock to reach the bodies still buried beneath the rubble.
The smell of death was really strong, but they persisted, determined that grieving people have the solace of being able to properly bury their loved ones.
My colleagues spoke to Ikram, 17. She explained that when the walls began shaking her father told the family to run outside, so they survived, Alhamdulillah. Days later, she was still in shock.
Ikram and her family invited our team to eat with them – a gesture of kindness and hospitality so typical of the people of Morocco, made more remarkable by the dire circumstances in which they now find themselves.
Though they have lost so much, families here are willing to share the little they have. Later, we went to a village to give blankets and mattresses to survivors, many of whom tried to give us cups of tea.
They are inspiring, and an example to us all: no matter how hard life is, there is always a way to support and be kind to others.
Truly, their spirit is stronger than any earthquake.
Morocco’s inspiring survivors
Another group of us went to Marrakech to meet the organisations with which we’ll be working to help affected communities. A great many families are without shelter, days after the earthquake, but there is a shortage of tents in Morocco – supply is a big challenge we are working to overcome.
We then joined the rest of the team in Amizmiz, where we were to begin aid distributions. We travelled by car to a remote village, high in the mountains over difficult terrain – stopping to help push another vehicle that had got stuck on the road.
When we reached the village, named Douar Tedcharte, we found people sitting outside in the dark. They explained to us that nights are very cold in the mountains, with one woman telling us that every morning she wakes, freezing and wet, chilled by frost.
They showed us their homes. While the buildings have not been demolished, they are cracked – and these cracks are getting bigger – so it is too unsafe for people to shelter there. I was thankful that we were at least able to give them blankets and mattresses to ease their suffering a little.
With a disaster of this scale, in which so many have lost so much, the challenges can be daunting. But the incredible, strong people we have met in Morocco are inspiring the Islamic Relief team – making us even more determined to do everything possible to help. And with the support of our generous supporters around the world, we will do exactly that.