Moroccan village adjusts to life in tents after devastating quake
Men draw water from a well to transport it by donkey to the makeshift camp where they have been living since their village was destroyed in the massive earthquake that devastated Southern Morocco last week.
Living conditions in Ighermane, a remote village in the High Atlas mountains, have always been rudimentary, but “there was water in the houses,” said 28-year-old Mohamed Oublay, after filling plastic containers that will be used to wash utensils and prepare dinner outdoors.
“Now we have gone back to the time of our ancestors.”
The village lost three children to Friday night’s earthquake. Its mud-brick homes were all partially or completely destroyed.
Read:Morocco earthquake kills more than 600 people
Even its brand-new mosque, inaugurated just five months ago, was not spared.
Climbing the mounds of rubble that still reek with the stench of the dead livestock buried beneath, Oublay surveys the scale of the crisis facing the village.
“The Interior Ministry provided us with 72 tents, but we are 90 families,” he said. “We can’t afford to store provisions there. The priority is to accommodate women and children,” he added.
Saida Ouchi said she was about to spend her first night under canvas after five nights sleeping in the open among the olive trees.
“I was told that we might be able to run a small lamp by connecting it to the only house that still has power,” she adds.
Ouchi has used mattresses and cushions distributed by charities to arrange her living space, which she shares with her husband, two of her daughters and three grandchildren.
While she is grateful for the increased comfort, she does not hide her fears for the safety of her grandchildren.
“We’re worried about the children, always wondering where they are and if something will fall on them,” she said.
The village school was destroyed in the quake forcing its pupils to spend their days outside.
Read:Survivors suffer as Morocco quake aid trickles in
Ouchi’s kitchen has been reduced to a few utensils around a wood fire shared with other women in the village. The food supplies distributed by local charities are stored under a tarpaulin baking under the punishing sun.
Moustapha Chamoun is worried about the approach of winter, which sometimes brings snow to the village. He prays that the authorities will help them rebuild their homes before the first snowfall hits.
“We don’t have the means to do it ourselves,” said the 25-year-old, who, like many villagers, holds down several part-time jobs in the country’s economic hub, Casablanca, to support his family.
“My parents, like my grandparents, will never want to leave here, and besides, housing elsewhere is prohibitively expensive,” he said.
Despite everything, Ouchi remains hopeful.
“If they give us a bit of cement and some earth, we will rebuild it ourselves. I just want two rooms and a kitchen. That’s all I ask form” she said.