Bay Area Moroccan families raising money for victims following massive 6.8 quake. How you can help

A GoFundMe was launched to help families for food and medical supplies, and shelter ahead of winter

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Monday, September 11, 2023
Bay Area Moroccan families raising money for earthquake victims
As the death toll continues to climb following the Moroccan earthquake, Bay Area families are trying to help victims of the 6.8 quake.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- As the death toll continues to climb following the massive Moroccan earthquake, Bay Area Moroccan families are struggling to keep up with news about their family member.

Lahcen Lhaoui, who lives in Hayward, spent much of Saturday going through videos that his family sent from Morocco.

"You can see the kids, the elderly people losing their houses. They are just sitting outside, with no homes, no shelter," says Lhaoui.

His wife and father are from villages in the Atlas Mountains, which was hit by a massive 6.8 earthquake on Friday night, some 45 miles south of the popular tourist city of Marrakesh.

So far, more than 2,000 people are dead. Thousands more are injured.

Lhaoui still doesn't know how many family members he may have lost.

"One member of my wife's family, her house leveled to the ground. There were spending two nights so far, just on the streets," he says.

His relatives sent videos showing big boulders that crashed onto the main roads. In some cases, completely shutting off some smaller villages. Lhaoui's son, Othman, says he can't sleep.

"It is crazy for me to process and even imagine, because I was just there in like August, end of July," says Othman, a high school senior.

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He says it's hard not to think about his close cousins, many who are also close to his age - now homeless and sleeping on the street.

"I feel that as a first generation Moroccan-American, to give back to my family. Because the majority of my family is all in Morocco. So, I feel, at least, a sense of duty to give back to my loved ones," explains Othman.

They have launched a GoFundMe page working with an NGO on the ground in Morocco. The goal is to raise money for food and medical supplies, and to build shelter for families ahead of the coming winter.

"If I was ever asked, 'What is the poorest region in Morocco?' I would say that region," says Hatim Yassine, referring to the Atlas mountain region.

Yassine used to work for a travel agency, Al Morocco, which gave tours to the region. So, he knows the area well.

He says the Morocco isn't prepared to handle this type of disaster. That's why they are trying to do their part to help.

"They just want food, they want blankets, they want water. And now they are (struck) with this. It's just hard," says Yassine, who now lives in Dublin.

The earthquake is said to be the worst to hit Morocco in almost a century.

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