On September 8, the Moroccan town of Marrakesh was struck by a catastrophic 6.9 magnitude earthquake, causing the tragic loss of 2,000 lives. The once-thriving community is now grappling with the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Amidst the rubble and heartbreak, a group of dedicated volunteers from the UAE-based Aster Group arrived in Morocco with a mission to provide essential aid and support to those affected by this disaster. The five-member team, which included four nurses and a doctor, reached Taroudant in Marrakesh on September 15, working with local charity organisations to help those in need.

"We operated in a small town on a mountaintop that has been severely affected," said General Practitioner Dr. Maazuddin Mohammed, speaking to Khaleej Times over a Zoom call from Morocco before returning to UAE on September 21. "We met an old lady who was 108 years old. She was on chronic medication for blood pressure and diabetes but lost everything in the quake."

According to Dr. Maazuddin, she had been without medication for more than seven days by the time the team met her. "If she had stayed any longer, it would have led to several health complications," he said. "We were able to provide her with medication for 30 days until she is able to get to a hospital."

The team travelled for over 12 hours, first flying from Dubai to Casablanca, then taking a domestic flight to reach the city of Taroudant.

Providing aid and medical care

Helping in remote villages with limited access to modern healthcare facilities, the group conducted basic healthcare screenings, raising awareness about health and safety, distributing much-needed relief materials, and donating essential medical aid kits to those in need. They worked with two local charities, Association Jeunes d'Atlas Taroudant and Marocains Solidaires.

Dr Maazuddin also gave the example of a day-old baby who was with its mother in a crowded refugee camp. "The baby was not covered properly and was hypothermic," he said. "Also, the mother did not have enough milk to feed the baby. So, she was diluting Moroccan tea and feeding the baby."

The experts then advised the mother on how to improve her milk production while also providing her with formula feed. "I felt like it was divine intervention that we reached there before the baby became ill," he said.

The giving spirit

According to another volunteer, Haitham Naeem, the assistant chief nursing officer at Medcare Hospitals and Clinics, he noticed how the people of Morocco were generous. "Yes, there is a shortage of medical supplies," he said. "But in terms of food and clothes, there is plenty. The people are contributing generously to these local organisations."

Returning to the UAE after five challenging days of volunteering, Haitham Naeem recalled that travelling to the most affected areas was the most difficult thing. He said, "We can only use small cars to travel to and from. Also, we had to travel through unmarked roads in most areas because it is a remote, mountainous town. We are talking about covering roughly 300 kilometres in a day. Also, these places don't have electricity, so we have to make sure we return from there before sunset, or it would be too dark."

Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, said, "The devastating earthquake in Morocco had a disastrous impact on so many people and their families, which would take years to recover, and any support extended at this crucial stage is the least that can be done. I am immensely proud of our volunteers who took the initiative to travel to Marrakesh and extend their selfless support to the victims in need."

Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).