“The ground was shaking beneath me, I was falling, getting up, and rushing,” Yousef recounts. His mind raced, echoing the tumult outside, his thoughts solely occupied with the safety of his family. Yousef managed to wake his family, guiding them out of their crumbling residence and into the chilling rain.
Meanwhile upstairs, Yousef’s brother Abdul and his family were stuck in the dark. After making their way through the hallway, Abdul and his family were shocked when they reached the exit. A heavy cabinet, filled with books, had fallen in front of the door. He and his family pushed and pushed, but the cabinet wouldn’t budge.
Desperate to help Abdul and his family, Yousef ran up and down the stairs, searching for an exit. “I have never felt so powerless,” Yousef shares. With each passing moment, the threat of structural collapse increased. He ran back outside. The shaking became so strong that all Yousef could do was cling to a tree while the earth slammed him up and down, praying that no harm would come to his loved ones indoors.
Meanwhile, still locked in his upstairs room, Abdul, knowing he had no more options, looked to God to give him peace and clarity of mind. He realized that for his family to survive, he had to offer encouragement and guidance. He told his family to stay calm and pray. He then sacrificially laid on top of his children to protect them from falling debris. They prayed, at that very moment, that the walls would not cave in on top them.
When the quaking finally stopped, Abdul knew it was time to try again. Looking back at this pivotal moment, Abdul recalls, “I encouraged my family, saying, ‘God is with us. Let’s try to lift it again.’ God gave us the strength, and we lifted the cabinet. We were all afraid to go downstairs, but we prayed for protection and went down together.”
The reunion waiting for them outside was bittersweet. The brothers and their families wept together as they celebrated their lives being spared, but their joy was cut short when they received a call that their sister-in-law had not survived the disaster. They grieved together in the dark while listening to the sounds of neighbors’ cries.
When the morning light came, they saw the damage. Their home was barely standing. Walls were cracked and fallen, debris was everywhere, furniture was buried under plaster and ceilings were crestfallen.