In her small village in Côte d'Ivoire, Alice[1] took care of her younger siblings while dreaming of becoming a pastry chef. While dabbling in pastry-making she looked into the possibility of studying locally, but her living conditions made that difficult.

One day her neighbour, home on holiday, told Alice Morocco was a great place to study and work in her chosen field. She said she would help Alice get there and pursue her studies.

Alice was enticed by this proposition and began saving some money to buy her plane ticket.

She still remembers with great emotion the moment she made her decision: "When I decided to go to Morocco, I had so much hope and dreams! I wanted to learn, grow, and maybe one day open my own pastry shop."

Throughout the period they were in contact by phone, her neighbour supported her and showed kindness towards her. She even promised to accommodate her until she could find a suitable place to stay.

However, once she arrived in Casablanca, her neighbour forbade her from working in the pastry field and forced her to work at her home without any pay: "The princess became a servant, a slave" she says with sadness.

The reality turned out to be much harder than she had imagined. She had to face extremely precarious working conditions, without a contract or salary: "I worked so hard... but I was never given fair compensation. It was as if my work was worthless" she confides with a mix of sadness and anger.

One evening, after a dispute with her employer about her mistreatment, lies, and abuse, Alice found herself on the street with no money or place to go: "It was as if the world was collapsing around me. I felt lost, hopeless" she added tears in her eyes.

In the silence of the night, Alice stood before the closed door of the house. Sitting on the cold sidewalk, a mix of fear, anger, and sadness overwhelmed her. The cruel reality of her situation had struck her, leaving her vulnerable in the night, faced with the uncertainty of what would come next.

In her distress, Alice crossed paths with unscrupulous people ready to take advantage of her vulnerability. Some individuals attempted to sexually assault her. Luckily, some among the attackers refused to participate in the attempted rape and intervened to protect her: "I realized at that moment that I had to fight to survive... to regain my dignity" she says with determination.

After this traumatic experience and several attempts to get back on her feet, Alice was finally directed to an association dedicated to assisting migrant victims of human trafficking in the Souss-Massa region: "When I found the association, I felt like I had a chance to take back control of my life. They reached out to me when I was at my lowest" she recalls.

Thanks to the support of this association, a partner of IOM in Morocco since 2022, Alice was able to benefit from emergency accommodation, psychosocial support, and assistance to start a pastry training program. She was able to gradually her life: "They gave me so much more than food and shelter. They gave me hope" she says with a smile.

Over the last fifteen months of IOM’s partnership with this association assisting victims of human trafficking, social workers identified 39 potential trafficking victims, among whom 17 benefitted from emergency accommodation and 19 received medical consultations.

After this experience, Alice was keen to give something back. On Internation Women’s Day she helped the association organize a celebration. She prepares the entire buffet, and helped young migrant women learn the basics of cooking and pastry making.

Today, Alice looks to the future with determination. "I want to return to my country one day and open my own pastry shop. That will be my way of saying 'I am stronger than my trials'."