Stuart Katz

Day 4 in Morocco – Real Stories of Struggle and Resilience in Marrakech

Marrakech is more than just a city; it’s a tapestry of emotions, experiences, and stories. On the fourth day of my journey, I had the opportunity to visit one of the many soup kitchens in the city. This particular soup kitchen has become a gathering place, a haven for many seeking a hot meal and some semblance of normalcy amidst the chaos.

One of the first individuals I spoke with was a woman who had relocated from Rabat to the Atlas Mountains about three decades ago. Tears streaming down her face, she told me of her survivor’s guilt. “Why did I walk away with so little damage when others lost everything?” she wondered aloud. Though her house in the mountains remained, her emotional ties to her hometown made her feel deeply connected to the disaster.

Next, I met a determined 30-year-old working towards her master’s degree. As she shared her past experience with tremors, she was grateful for the moment we provided. “You know,” she said, wiping away tears, “it just feels good to cry sometimes without needing to put on a brave face.” The recent earthquake had unearthed traumatic memories from her childhood, and this raw conversation allowed her the space to grapple with these emotions openly.

Then, there was the internationally educated woman wrestling with her gender identity in a culture where such discussions are often swept under the rug. Her tears flowed freely as she shared her personal struggles, hinting at the depth of her internal conflict. “It’s not easy,” she admitted, “especially here in Morocco. But I’m trying to figure it out.”

During my visit, I was also able to use the generous donations from people worldwide to shop for necessities. These acts of kindness, in the midst of Aseret Yemei Teshuva, were a humble attempt to make a difference. With every purchase and every interaction, I prayed for comfort and healing for everyone I met.

As my fourth day in Morocco came to a close, the raw, heartfelt conversations I had with these three women stayed with me. Their tears, shared in moments of vulnerability, reflected the pain, hope, and resilience of a community and a nation. As I prepare to wrap up my visit, I am reminded of the collective strength of Marrakech’s people, each one with their own unique story of survival and hope.

About the Author
Stuart is a co-founder of the Nafshenu Alenu mental health educational initiative founded in 2022. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He is on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis