Robin Hammond

Monrovia, LIBERIA

Former child soldier Teha Camble (also known as General War Face), 28, in Trench Town, an informal settlement in Monrovia inhabited mostly by ex-combatants of Liberia's civil wars.

He says: 'I fought the war and I was one of the commander around here. Each and everyone here they know. I protected this whole community that we live in here. Where no one come here to intimidate or beat on somebody. I stand behind everybody even when they can't get money to eat I make sure I take my own personal money from my pocket and make sure my soldiers eat equal with the civilians with us. I kill people but now everything have come to an end so we been bye-gone to be bye-gone so we begin human on our own to disregard everything that happen in the past'.

Thousands of Liberia's children were conscripted to fight in the country's bloody civil wars between 1989 and 2003. The guns they held gave them power and status. They took what they wanted from a population that feared them. When the fighting was over many of these former combatants experienced significant stigma when they returned to their communities. In turn, the now destitute adult ex-fighters formed ghettos where they continue to call each other by their war names and respect ranks held during the fighting. Among these former child soldiers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with its constituent symptoms of aggression, depression, sleeplessness and flashbacks, is rife but rarely treated.

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Robin Hammond
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