I lived in Morocco from 2010-2012 during the so-called Arab Spring. It was a fascinating adventure. The Moroccan people are warm, welcoming, hospitable, and kind. The country is an intriguing mix of Arab, French, and Berber culture. Many Moroccans speak multiple languages. I often heard children switch from English to French to Arabic, to Darrisha, the local vernacular all within five minutes. I marveled at the beauty and diversity of the landscape. The coast, the Atlas Mountains, and the desert each had their own charm and appeal. Riding on a camel is not to be missed, as is a trip to Rick’s Café in Casablanca. The souks, open air markets where everyone shops, are beautiful and piled with an amazing assortment of fruits, vegetables, and plants of all kinds. It is a visual feast as well as one for the palette. Moroccan cuisine combines sweet and sour with panache. The traditional cooking vessel is a tagine, a cone shaped ceramic vessel that creates delicious stews and breads. Some say the tagine developed in the nomadic culture of North Africa because it functioned as a sort of portable oven. Bargaining for rugs, paintings and delicately painted ceramics is expected. Moroccan merchants are sorely disappointed if you take their first offer.
Another significant aspect of Moroccan culture is the importance of family. There is very little infrastructure as Americans understand it. Families look out for their own in every circumstance. Most Moroccans are extremely poor and there are limited opportunities for careers and jobs. This is why the tragedy of the earthquake is especially horrific in this country. When you lose your family, you lose everything. There is nothing left. In the parts of the country that are most vulnerable, where the tremblor hit the hardest, there are fewest resources. These people have lost everything, homes, family, security, jobs. Please consider donating to help relieve the misery of the Moroccan people in this tragic time.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) quickly responded to both disasters. It released $1.1 million from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support Moroccan Red Crescent relief efforts in the country and on Tuesday launched an appeal to raise $112 million more. “We expect this initial release of money to make a difference on the ground,” said Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC’s regional director of Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. “It will be used to buy essential supplies locally in Morocco. The people in the Moroccan Red Crescent know their communities best and know best what is needed.”
Here are some ways that you can help:
- World Central Kitchen is teaming with Moroccan volunteers to provide food and water in the remote areas hardest hit by the earthquake. World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres said the group’s helicopters are doing double duty, dropping off supplies in those areas and evacuating injured people on their return trips.
- Doctors Without Borders has sent 10 staff members to Morocco to assess what the local hospital needs are and how the organization can support the Moroccan government with supplies or logistics. Though Doctors Without Borders announced plans to end medical activities in Tripoli last month, it continues to provide medical care and humanitarian assistance in other parts of the country.
- CARE, which has been working in Morocco since 2008 to help people get access to basic services, has launched the Morocco Earthquake Emergency Fund, which it says will prioritize providing women and girls, youth, and disadvantaged groups food and shelter.
- GlobalGiving’s Morocco Earthquake Relief Fund had raised nearly $560,000 by Tuesday afternoon to provide food, water and shelter to those who have lost their homes in the earthquake, as well as supporting long-term recovery efforts.
Rev. Lyn Baker
St. Timothy’s Anglican Church Williston, Vermont