After I was a toddler, we used to journey to the Atlas Mountains to go to my grandparents’ village, Azgayoud. It was a magical place: the towering peaks, the rugged terrain, and the forests of argan timber; the small one-storey homes produced from mud and rocks, mixing seamlessly into the sandy panorama; the surface ovens churning out the tastiest, most fragrant Tafarnout bread; the neighborhood gatherings of girls cracking argan nuts to organize argan oil, the “liquid gold” of the Atlas whereas singing previous Amazigh songs; and, after all, the gravity-defying mountain goats, leaping on roofs, fences and timber.
My grandparents’ home captured, for me, the essence of Atlas life. It stood as a haven the place time appeared to pause. Its picket door, adorned with a hefty knocker, remained all the time open, welcoming all. Its courtyard, that includes a properly with the freshest water, hosted household and mates who rested within the shade, sipping tea.
By the eyes of a kid, this place seemed like paradise: Folks had a easy and glad life, having fun with the abundance that residing in concord with nature granted them. However as I grew up, I got here to grasp that many Amazigh communities like my grandparents’ have been dealing with extreme hardships.
Many villages within the mountains lacked paved roads, working water, and correct entry to well being care and sanitation. Restricted electrical energy provide and weak cellular sign would usually reduce off communication with the remainder of the world. Lack of entry to correct training and financial alternatives would drive many younger individuals to depart for greater cities within the north or to migrate to Europe. These communities have been largely left on their very own.
On September 8, a strong earthquake multiplied the distress and hardships of the area numerous occasions. The catastrophe killed greater than 2,900 individuals and injured no less than 5,530.
After I heard the information, I instantly known as my dad and mom in Taroudant, a metropolis nestled within the southern slopes of the Atlas Mountains. They reassured me that they and the remainder of the household have been secure and properly. They’d felt the tremors, however their homes had withstood the shock.
However up within the mountain, my grandparents’ village had suffered some harm. Elsewhere, complete communities had been worn out.
It was painful to listen to the tales of loss of life and devastation from household and mates. Remoted and reduce off from the world, many villagers have needed to dig individuals out of the rubble with their naked palms. Having misplaced their houses and grieving for his or her useless family members, many have needed to sleep out within the open, as temperatures drop to 10 levels Celsius (50 levels Fahrenheit) at evening. Girls and kids who’ve misplaced different relations now face the danger of exploitation by human traffickers.
Rescue efforts have been slowed down by the rugged terrain and rockslides. Vans carrying humanitarian assist have discovered it troublesome to make their manner on slim mountainous roads, whereas medical workers and rescuers have struggled to evacuate the injured to the closest medical services.
The native hospital in Taroudant, which serves dozens of rural communities, was overwhelmed. I’ve heard harrowing accounts of how the hospital and its devoted workers have been struggling to deal with the inflow of injured and deceased individuals within the first few days.
Nonetheless, there was an enormous mobilisation of individuals to assist one another out. Organising on social media, volunteers have been gathering important objects equivalent to tents, mattresses, blankets, child meals, hygiene merchandise, and extra and distributing them to destitute villagers. However this help will get homeless households solely that far, particularly as winter is approaching.
Per week after the catastrophe struck, the concern is that because the worldwide media highlight strikes away, these individuals will as soon as once more be forgotten. And that is already occurring. The floods in Libya which have taken the lives of greater than 11,000, have topped the information agenda and Morocco’s earthquake catastrophe has slipped off the entrance pages.
There are, after all, some areas affected by the earthquake that might be taken care of. Marrakech and its UNESCO World Heritage website will probably see the majority of assist and reconstruction help. Communities within the Atlas Mountains wouldn’t have this internationally recognised label to attract consideration to their heritage.
In response to native media reviews, essential historic monuments, such because the Twelfth-century Tinmel Mosque, lie in ruins; they’re susceptible to being misplaced ceaselessly. However much more importantly, an entire lifestyle, preserved within the heights of the Atlas Mountains, might be at risk, if the area doesn’t obtain correct help.
The devastation brought on by the earthquake will undoubtedly result in an exodus of individuals from the area searching for a brand new dwelling. Entire villages could die out in consequence. Depopulation may disrupt the preservation of Amazigh traditions, trades, customs, folklore and even native dialects.
This area has safeguarded a singular tradition and language for greater than 3,000 years, and it holds deep significance for a lot of Amazigh individuals. To outlive this calamity, these communities require pressing and complete help.
The individuals of the Atlas Mountains have confronted isolation and hardship for hundreds of years and endured. Theirs is a narrative of power and dedication, of a tradition that persists within the face of adversity. However this earthquake will tear their communities aside until we assist them.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.