Last Friday, the earth shook violently in the Atlas, many villages were destroyed, people lost their loved ones, belongings - heartbreaking.
The earthquake was felt as far away as Marrakech, where there was also damage and victims, although much less than in the southwestern mountain regions. Actually it should go on Sunday to Marrakesh to the Pure. An international travel fair with hotels, travel agencies and journalists from all over the world. With a lot of sensitivity, the organizers communicated and decided to cancel the event. Understandably - it wasn't time to talk about travel and celebrate when an entire country was in mourning. And yet the local hotels, stores and restaurants would have been happy to have guests; somehow now more than ever, because it has to go on and many live off the tourists and guests. Because there is no failure insurance or parachute from the state.
After the initial shock of the sad news from Morocco, I thought about doing something that is right. Not to go, but to go, how to help? And I wanted to know how friends and acquaintances are doing. Since the renovation in 2020 of the CERVO Mountain Resort we have a lively contact with Marrakech. Be it for the furnishing of the restaurant Bazaar at CERVO, the uniforms and items in the store. In the Atlas I was trekking a few times, the barren mountain landscape, the simplicity and at the same time deep contentment of the people there touched me.
Hassan, a guide from the Atlas, replied to my Whatsapp soon. I was happy to read that he and his family were doing well under the circumstances. Saddened to learn that his village was partially destroyed and has many victims to mourn. Houses have collapsed or are uninhabitable because of severe damage and fear of collapse. From Marrakech I learned that the situation was OK and the damage was within limits.
Not going, yet going, how to help?
The question continued to burn in my mind and actually in my heart. I decided to go and our resort manager Benjamin also immediately came with me. A call went out late Saturday night in Zermatt for clothes to donate and Sunday morning I was moved to see how many clothes were outside my front door - heart touching.
With 4 big bags and 2 tents, which I dusted off from Camp Pera in Täsch, we left for Marrakech via Geneva. Hassan was with his daughter at the airport and on Sunday evening he was back in his village. A drop in the bucket and yet I was grateful that this quick help worked out.
For Benjamin and me it went to Marrakech. The lively city was quieter than usual, yet its pulse was still palpable. On many corners was cleaned up and built. One was from the earthquake, but much more was because the city wants to show itself from its most beautiful side for an important congress in the fall. And above all, we were infected by the solidarity that the Moroccans have among themselves. On all channels from WhatsApp to Instagram, actions were launched to help.
The cohesion is unique and perhaps also necessary to survive such hard times. Remarkable how the population helps itself and must. With a packed car with food, water, blankets, medicines and clothes we went Tuesday to Hassan in the Atlas. A column of cars drove into the mountains to help friends and families. For the time being, Hassan, his family and the village were doing ok under the circumstances - but how long will they have to live in the tents? And will it get colder in the coming weeks? But they are not thinking that far at the moment. The people are grateful for the moment and the laughter of the playing children I will not forget so quickly - heartwarming.
Do not go, yet go, how to help?
Does this question matter? Is there a right, better or more efficient way to help? No questions that the Moroccans have asked themselves these days. They simply reacted - from the heart.
Among many final impressions, I take this with me. A little more heart does us all no harm.