Rebuilding hope in the High Atlas Mountains
The quake, measuring a magnitude of 6.8, claimed over 3,000 lives, left thousands more injured, and millions more affected. In the midst of this crisis, The Eve Branson Foundation (EBF), with the support of Virgin Unite, has worked to bring immediate relief and long-term recovery to the affected areas.
EBF, a small non-profit organisation, works to create opportunities that impact the lives of local people in the High Atlas Mountains. For over 18 years, EBF has been a trusted partner in the community, working across four areas: artisanal training, environment, healthcare, and education. EBF also has a strong partnership with Kasbah Tamadot and together they are driven by a shared commitment to make a meaningful difference to the local community.
When disaster struck on 8 September, EBF and the dedicated team at Kasbah Tamadot, acted swiftly. Their first priority was to ensure the safety of guests, employees, and their families and fortunately, everyone was unharmed. An emergency fundraising appeal was launched on GlobalGiving and received an incredible outpouring of support, raising over $400,000 in just two weeks. That funding is providing essential relief efforts such as food, clean water, shelter, and medical supplies. It is also being channelled into rebuilding critical services, including schools, boarding houses, and restoring some of EBFs programs, including their artisanal training.
Recognising the ongoing urgent need for shelter, especially with winter approaching, Virgin Unite is working with a number of partners to assemble a stockpile of winterproof shelters and supplies for the affected communities. These large tents are crucial for families who will continue to live in camps during the winter. Once the supplies are delivered, local residents take charge of the operations, ensuring that the support remains community led.
Despite the unimaginable hardships faced by the Berber people, their resilience and sense of community are inspiring. For Fatima, EBF's support has been a lifeline, providing shelter and hope in a time of great need.
“In the morning after the earthquake struck, after we had safely evacuated the guests and helped to organise their transfers, we organised an emergency meeting to see how we could help the community. We purchased food and water for the local villages and distributed other emergency supplies in the days that followed. We then put a plan together so that we could continue to provide for any emergency needs in the community. My normal day job has totally changed! We are all working long hours to do as much as we can,” said Fatima Gounsa, Vice-President of the Eve Branson Foundation, Health and Safety Manager, People Manager, and PA to the General Manager of Kasbah Tamadot.
King Mohamed VI of Morocco recently announced a package of aid for families whose homes were damaged by the earthquake. EBF, in coordination with partner organisations, is assessing structural damage to schools and other essential community functions in the Asni valley. Their vision includes rebuilding schools, incorporating Berber style and heritage, with improved infrastructure such as sports facilities, dining centres and heating. Additionally, sanitation solutions and hygiene projects are in the works to address growing concerns. As the region looks to recover, EBF will actively exploring ways to sensitively restore tourism, thereby boosting the local economy, especially during the peak tourist season.
The response of EBF and Virgin Unite to the Moroccan earthquake has not just been about providing immediate relief, but also about long-term support, recovery, and resilience. Through their community-led approach and unwavering commitment, these organisations are helping the Berber people regain their strength, one step at a time. In the face of adversity, they offer hope, proving that even in the darkest of times, a brighter future is possible.