On September 8, a devastating 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Marrakesh, Morocco, resulting in the tragic loss of 2,000 lives. The once-vibrant community now grapples with the aftermath of this natural disaster.
In response to this crisis, a dedicated team of volunteers from the UAE-based Aster Group arrived in Morocco with a mission to provide essential aid and support to the affected population. This five-member team, comprising four nurses and a doctor, reached Taroudant in Marrakesh on September 15 and collaborated with local charitable organizations to assist those in need.
Dr. Maazuddin Mohammed, a General Practitioner, shared, “We operated in a severely affected mountaintop town. We encountered a 108-year-old woman who was on chronic medication for blood pressure and diabetes but had lost everything in the earthquake.” Speaking from Morocco via Zoom before their return to the UAE on September 21, Dr. Mohammed highlighted their efforts in the region.
Dr. Maazuddin mentioned that the elderly woman had gone without medication for over a week when the team encountered her. He emphasized, “If she had waited any longer, it could have resulted in various health issues. Fortunately, we were able to supply her with a month’s worth of medication until she can access a hospital.”
To reach Taroudant, the team embarked on a journey lasting more than 12 hours. They initially flew from Dubai to Casablanca, followed by a domestic flight to reach Taroudant.
Delivering assistance and healthcare.
Assisting remote villages with limited access to modern healthcare facilities, the team conducted basic health screenings, raised awareness about health and safety, distributed vital relief supplies, and donated essential medical kits to those in need. They collaborated with two local charities, Association Jeunes d’Atlas Taroudant and Marocains Solidaires.
Dr. Maazuddin shared an example of a one-day-old baby and its mother in a crowded refugee camp. He explained, “The baby wasn’t adequately covered and was experiencing hypothermia. Additionally, the mother had insufficient milk to feed the baby, so she resorted to diluting Moroccan tea to feed the infant.”
The medical experts offered guidance to the mother on improving her milk production while also providing formula feed. Dr. Maazuddin expressed a sense of serendipity that they arrived in time to prevent the baby from falling ill.
The spirit of generosity.
According to another volunteer, Haitham Naeem, the Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Medcare Hospitals and Clinics, he observed the generosity of the Moroccan people. He mentioned, “While there is a shortage of medical supplies, there is an abundance of food and clothing. The local residents are generously contributing to these charitable organizations.”
Reflecting on their challenging five-day volunteering mission upon returning to the UAE, Haitham Naeem noted that traveling to the hardest-hit areas presented significant difficulties. He explained, “We could only use small cars for transportation, and many areas required navigating through unmarked mountain roads. Covering approximately 300 kilometers in a day was common. Additionally, these regions lacked electricity, so we had to ensure we returned before sunset to avoid traveling in darkness.”
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare, expressed, “The devastating earthquake in Morocco has had a profound impact on numerous individuals and their families, and recovery will take years. Any assistance provided during this critical period is a crucial endeavor.
I am immensely proud of our volunteers who took the initiative to travel to Marrakesh and selflessly support those in need.”