volunteers of moroccan earthquake

The Vital Role that Volunteers play in our World

I have been in my home in Taroudant, Morocco since the middle of August. The seconds when the world shook around me, and I thought the building I was in would collapse, were the most terrifying of my life.

The noise was deafening; there was screaming in the streets outside. Everyone left their houses and headed for open areas outside the city walls, carrying bedding and possessions. We all slept under the stars that night, fearful of aftershocks. Fallen masonry and rubble all around us, blocked roads, police all about in large numbers. News was slow to trickle in to begin with. Then it started pouring in, and our Earth Tremble was international headline news.

Over 400 deaths in our town, far more in mountain villages, nearly 3,000 in total so far, although numbers rising still. Government was slow to ask for international help, and when they finally did, it was slow to arrive in the places it was so desperately needed – Officials and the larger charities seemed to be hampered by bureaucracy. So it was the local people, the volunteers, who rallied and galvanised themselves in large groups to act and to provide help and supplies where it was most needed, as immediately as possible. Our local Rotary here, immediately launched an Earthquake Appeal to raise funds to pay for provisions to be taken up to the mountains straight away: food, water, mattresses, tents, blankets, clothes, nappies – and the money started coming in. It was spent as it came in, and trucks very quickly started leaving Taroudant in convoys to deliver these urgent supplies. It was 100% volunteers who were doing, and continue to do this work.

Then a few days later we heard of the dreadful events in Libya. Unthinkably frightful. And again there, we saw that it was the volunteers who acted immediately to help. Teams and teams of them. West and East Libya have been at loggerheads for years, with extreme fighting throughout the region. All this was set aside when this dreadful disaster hit the town of Derna; the West started providing aid, but again we saw official help was hampered by bureaucracy. All the volunteer support was vital, and it poured in.

When I think about it, that’s why we established Hammersley Homes – after decades of begging, shouting, screaming and fighting for long-term support for the vulnerable people we work with, and nothing ever changing, it became ever clearer that the only way any change would ever happen, was if we did it ourselves. And of course, that’s why charities all over the world, throughout time, have been established. And the role played by volunteers in all charity endeavours, is a completely vital one. Without volunteers, charities wouldn’t be able to do the important work they all do. And the role played by charities in our world, is a completely vital one. Charities fill the gaps in the provision of services and support that’s not provided by our governments – and they are vitally important services.

We vote for and appoint our government representatives to keep us safe and provide for us – but in so many spheres, they don’t. If the officials in charge had kept the Libyan dams maintained as they should have done, their terrible disaster might have been avoided. So it’s the volunteers who step in and step up, time and time again, to provide much needed protection, aid and support for us all.

So – a HUGE thank you to all volunteers everywhere. We couldn’t do without you!

Louise Hallett