NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk restaurant owner is still in Morocco helping victims following the devastating earthquake. The 6.8 magnitude quake hit the country three weeks ago, killing thousands and leaving more injured or unaccounted for.
The owner of Omar’s Carriage House, Omar Boukhriss, grew up in Morocco and said it’s devastating to see his home country like this. He said so far they’ve been able to buy about 200 mattresses, pillows and pairs of shoes for the victims.
Previous coverage of Boukhriss from a few weeks ago, showed him fundraising to help the victims of the devastating earthquake.
“They lost everything they have, some of them lost their loved ones, kids, wives, husbands — there’s towns that the whole family is gone,” Boukhriss said.
Boukhriss said the damage left behind by the earthquake is devastating to see. He said some of the ski resorts he vacationed to in the high Atlas Mountains as a kid are no longer there.
“Once you get there and see it, it’s heartbreaking because these are sites that you visited as a kid and teenager and these areas don’t exist anymore,” Boukhriss said.
Boukhriss said the mountainous area where a lot of the damage is centered is very rural and difficult to get to. He said after they landed in the country two weeks ago they went and bought about 200 mattresses, covers, pillows and about 400 pairs of shoes.
“The face of these people that’s going through rough time and hectic time — they need help, but they’re so appreciative for us to be there, but also they’re so welcoming like, ‘Hey let me make you something to eat’ even though they don’t have it,” Boukhriss said.
Boukhriss said they wanted to focus on things that would last them longer than a week or two.
“We bought about 200 pounds of dry goods, meaning lentils, beans, flour,” Boukhriss said. “Anything that would last them through the winter, harsh winter time.”
They also provided residents with tents and heavy duty plastic, and built a school out of a bigger tent, so the kids could keep learning.
“These kids are still processing this whole traumatic situation,” Boukhriss said. “These kids went through a life change.”
He said he’s thankful for all the help from the people of Hampton Roads to make this happen.
“When you see what these folks are going through and the help that is coming, it makes you appreciate life and appreciate what everybody does in situations like this,” Boukhriss said.
You can still donate if you’d like to help the victims through their online fundraiser or by visiting the restaurant.
Boukhriss said there’s an urgent need for tents in the area, especially with the harsh winter ahead.
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