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A Hopeful Refugee Rebuilds her Life in Morocco

Monday, 12 January 2015

Rabat (MWN)– On September 2013, Morocco has adopted a new asylum policy that allows for the regularisation of refugees who were recognised under UNHCR’s mandate and provides them with a Moroccan refugee card and a residence permit.

Within this context, Gloria, an Ivorian refugee, got her Moroccan residence permit and hoped for a better integration into a society where she already managed to build a life of her own. Gloria’s passion about hair dressing motivated her to establish a small hairdressing salon with the help of UNHCR and one of its implementing partners in Morocco, the Association Marocaine d’Appui à la Promotion de la Petite Entreprise (AMAPPE). With an unshaken hope and a strong determination, Gloria succeeded not only at having a successful business, but also at sharing her skills with a Moroccan trainee who was interested in learning what Gloria had to teach.

The road to Gloria’s success has not always been paved “my roots, the people I cared about and the only home I knew and loved were all gone when the conflict erupted in my country.” These are Gloria’s words describing how she lived the events of 2010 in Côte d’Ivoire. The country experienced brutal acts of violence following the presidential elections of the same year. The crisis peaked in 2011 as an estimated 200,000 men, women and children sought asylum in different neighboring countries and an estimated one million people were internally displaced in Côte d’Ivoire. However, beyond those numbers lie many stories about struggle and hope. Gloria’s story is one of them. Sadly, and as Gloria expressed it, “my life was turned upside down and I had no choice but to run.” She recalls those painful days with tears in her eyes as she left everything behind and felt and lived that conflict for every following day.

Today, Gloria thanks God for finding the strength to fight for her daily needs. “I sat on a floor in downtown Casablanca and started to braid people’s hair.” In 2013, Gloria established her small hairdressing salon in Temara, where she managed to build a life of her own by doing what she loved most. UNHCR and AMAPPE, who works on promoting small enterprises, helped her through this process. “2013 was a good year for me thanks to this project” she said. However, by June 2014 Gloria started to have problems with some neighbors who were spreading damaging rumors about her and her business. The problems with the neighbors escalated. “They even asked my landlord to kick me out from the house, but I pay my rent and mind my own business, so he and some other neighbors were on my side.”

“Now I can barely manage to pay for my rent because of these rumors, but I knew I had to find other solutions,” she expressed in a determined tone, “so I took pictures and made copies of the hairstyles, the haircuts I could do as well as and of the colors I could dye hair in. and distributed them to a number of hairdressing salons in cities nearby, So now different salons call me whenever there is a client who is interested in my work.”

 This way, “some months smile at me, but some others don’t. So I use the savings I put aside to pay for rent and buy the products I need.”

With a touching smile and a courageous determination, Gloria continues her daily struggle and says to all Moroccans “accept us please. We are all Africans after all. We don’t ask for too much. Our countries are at war and our lives are threatened there.” Gloria’s determination to live and succeed in Morocco goes beyond these statements; it even drove her to participate to the World Human Rights Forum that was held in Marrakech in November 2014. She took her beauty products and a photo album showing her many hairdressing skills and joined a stand that AMAPPE established in the forum, to say in her own way that success has indeed always been about one thing: the courage to continue.

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