In 1995 Joseph was walking along the road with his father and two brothers.  The encountered a few ULIMO fighters who pretended to not know how to use the gun they were carrying.
When  Joseph’s father offered to help them, the fighters accused him of being a soldier since he know how to operate the weapon.  After killing Joseph’s father, they killed his two brothers so they could not seek revenge.  Joseph fled into the bush.
Joseph then joined a faction himself .. he says he had no choice – no other way of providing for himself.  Besides, he adds, all his friends had joined.
He is currently attending school as a sixth grader.  He says he still belongs to the faction, however, and will fight again if there is renewed conflict.
“I have nowhere to go .. I must fight.”
Tomah, age 10, lives in Monrovia at the MOH refugee center with her aunt while her mother lives in the interior.  Her mother can “make market’ in the interior, but is only able to visit Tpmah infrequently.
Tomah's biggest wish?  “To be near my ma.”  She says that she would not go anywhere, ‘even America’, if it meant leaving her mother.
Toma is in the K2 at school, and likes math.  When she grows up, she wants to drive cars and be a mechanic.
Junior lives in the Ministry of Health center for displaced persons, an unfinished building that became a refugee camp for as many as 30,000 people during the war.  Juniors’s parents both disappeared during the war.
One day, he says, his mother went gathering medicine and disappeared.  His father took the baby and went that direction, but didn’t come back.  He says he didn’t go with his father that time because he was playing.
When his father didn’t return, he “ran to the bush and found a woman I know.”  Now they live together at MOH.
Junior wants a car so he can go look for his parents.
Flomo joined the ULIMO-J faction in 1992, then left to join the Lofa Defense Force in 1995.  His fighting name was “Son of a Wicked Devil”.
He says he joined the faction because he was “disadvantaged”, a term meaning that he was vulnerable and preyed upon by other fighters.  He says that he doesn’t know if he killed anyone during those four years.  “Perhaps in a cross-fire.”
Flomo says he will fight again if necessary, “because I must defend myself.”
Elam’s parents disappeared in 1990.  He lives with his Aunt now, in Monrovia.
In April of 1996, when the fighting flared up in Monrovia, Elam joined the LPC faction – Liberian Peace Council – in order to “defend my people.”  Most rebel fighters have a nom-de guerre:  Elam’s was “bloody Face”.
He says he killed three NPFL fighters during the April fighting and felt good about it.  After April, however, he began
“to feel bad.”
Now he says he goes to church to “stop feeling bad”.  He prays to God to forgive him.
Elam says he doesn’t want to fight again, so if fighting starts “I will just let them kill me.”
Kollie is in 1st grade and likes science and English.  When he rows up, he wants to be a teacher because "I get my own education, so I want other children to get their own."
Kollie says that if he were President, he would stop the war.
Junior joined the Lofa Defense Force when fighting erupted on April 6, 1996.  Junior was at a video club when his parents fled, and he suddenly found himself cut off from any escape route.  So he joined the faction.
Junior was given an AK-47 to fight with, but when his commander would kill prisoners, Junior would run away.  His commander noticed this, and the next time he told Junior that he would die too if he didn't kill the prisoner himself.
"The man begged for mercy," said Junior.
After that, Junior was afraid to go with his commander.
"When they came for me, I would pretend to be sick."
Sometime in 1992, fighters came into the village where these twins lived.  The boys were playing in a tree and their mother was beating rice.
As the twins watched, one fighter walked up to their mother and cut her throat with a knife.  He then called for the twins to come down, but they refused, and eventually the fighters left.
The boys followed other survivors from their village, and were eventually taken to Monrovia.
Wonlay wants to be a doctor some day  -- “to be dressing people’s sores and giving injections”
Swana was born in Tubmanburg.  In 1990 his mother, Mary died of malnutrition-related causes.  In 1991, NPFL fighters accused his father of aiding ULIMO and executed him.
The same year, Swana joined the NPFL because, he says, he had no one to feed him.  He was 9 years old.
When he received his AK-47, the took the name “Rebel Gena” and began looting to get food.  He says he felt “all right” during those years.  Before fighting, the rebels would put gun powder under their skin to “make them brave.”  He says he never was scared, and that he “killed plenty.”    He doesn’t know how many, but says he mostly killed so he couldn’t be identified after looting.
Now he has frequent dreams, particularly about two of the people he killed;  a baby he threw into a river, and a pregnant woman who begged for her life.  He also has dreams of people running behind him, wanting to kill him.
Swana says he wants the church to pray for him, to make the dreams stop.
“Bathe me in the water so this thing can go away from me.”
In 1990, Dolo’s father and brother were killed by AFL soldiers who had accused them of feeding fighters from the NPFL, a rival faction.  After his father’s death, Dolo decided to join the NPFL.  His mother supported this decision, and he took the name “Private Fuck Cat”.
During his first battle, Dolo ran away from the front.  He started fighting the second time, however, and attributes his bravery to Ju-Ju medicine.  After each battle, he says he prayed for forgiveness.
He killed his first person, an AFL soldier, after “catching him red handed.”  Dolo’s commander gave the order, and Junior shot him.  He claims he killed more than 2,000 people, including civilians, most likely an inflated figure.
Dolo left the faction because he was “just tired of fighting.”  Now he wants to got to school, “or do anything.”
He has dreams about the people he killed, and asks others to pray for him so that the dreams will stop.
PeeWee, age 9, was forced to quit school when his family could no longer afford to send him.  He says he likes his “ABCs,” and wants to go back to school.  Eventually he wants to do ‘doctor work, because I like to treat peoples sores”
During the April 1996 fighting, PeeWee and his family took shelter in the Army barracks, in downtown Monrovia.  “People were dying, were sick.  Were dying of hunger.  I was scared, and I would run inside.  I was still scared inside with my ma and pa.” he says.
PeeWee adds:  “They are fighting the war to kill people.   It will not soon finish.”
Forkay joined the NPFL faction in 1990 to protect his father, who was being beaten by local fighters.  At the time of this picture, he was still with the NPFL.
Forkay’s brother George, pictured here (left), was playing away from his home when fighters attacked his village.
When George returned home from playing, those he know were gone and new people, the fighters, occupied the village.  George decided to stay.  Later, they took him into the jungle and beat him until he said he would join them in the ULIMO-K faction.
In April of 1996, Forkay convinced George to join the NPFL and they fought together in Monrovia.  George says that now he would have no problem shooting his old friends who still belong to the ULIMO-K.
Sam lived with his parents and five siblings in Po River. Sam's father did agricultural work, and owned five cars.  As the war approached their home, the family was packing to leave when they learned that the rebels were hunting for Sam's father.
Sam's parents separated the children, sending them to Nimba County to an Aunt.  Before leaving them, they told the children they may never see them again.
Since then, Sam's had no news of his parents.  In 1996 Sam came to an orphanage in Monrovia because there was no food at his Aunt's home.
Sam like the orphanage, because he can go to school now.  Bible is his favorite subject, because "all man can do God has said in Bible, so I want to study it."
Sam hopes to become a pastor.
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