Shortly after the earthquake on 8 September 2023 in Morocco, OM partners began delivering aid and assessing the needs of people in devastated mountain villages.
One assessment group was sent down a mountain road to see how far they could travel to deliver aid. They reached a point where they were forced to park on the side of the road –– not because it was the end of the road, but because what had been houses just 36 hours before, was a jumbled mass of destruction piled across the road. Amongst the rubble, small groups of people worked with their hands, pickaxes, hammers and anything else resembling a tool to try and reach friends and family buried underneath. Tragically, this was essentially a body-recovery mission, with each new body found quickly carried a stone’s throw away to be buried in shallow graves dug into the side of the mountain.
Wanting to better assess the situation and the immediate needs of the remnants of this community, members of the team looked around and saw the pump house for the water well. The walls of the small building were destroyed, and the group wondered if the water tower was also similarly damaged. Just then, two men drove past on a motorbike heading for the flattened village, sledgehammer in hand. An OM partner, Michael*, stopped them to ask if they knew if the pump still worked despite the damage. The answer to the question never became clear, as one of the Moroccan men, Rachid*, broke down completely, desperate sobs racking his heaving chest. Most of his family had died, and he was going back with the sledgehammer to try and dig out his wife and two daughters from underneath what used to be the front wall of their home. Michael reached out to the man with a hug and Rachid clutched him tight and sobbed uncontrollably for a few minutes, letting his grief pour out in a flood.
A little later, after completing more of the survey of the community and identifying further needs, the team saw Rachid at work with the sledgehammer, trying to break apart bricks and concrete to find the remains of his family. Stopping for a short rest, Rachid broke down sobbing in Michael’s arms once again.
OM partners on the ground continue to deliver relief and connect with men and women like Rachid, who are impacted by the earthquake and in need of help and care. With harsh winter weather coming soon, OM partners will spend time working with communities where they have established relationships to build transitional shelters and offer social support where no other options are available.
Continue to pray that God would bring the comfort and healing that only He can give to Rachid and to all who are grieving.