Liberia's ex-female fighters don’t want to carry gun again

A Woman’s hands that once cradled an AK-47 now caress an infant son and hem pants. Two years since Liberia's 14 years of horror ended, some 20,000 female fighters, a fifth of all ex-combatants, have been demobilized and, like 34-year old Oretha Davis, are now being trained to re-enter society. The country's future may hinge on whether they succeed.

"I lost my head in that war," Davis said, looking at four-month-old Roland nestled in her lap.

"That AK was heavier than my baby. I don't want to carry a gun again," she said, as dozens of other ex-female fighters hunch over sewing machines, training for a new trade. "Now I just want this baby, and to learn."

Davis and dozens of other young women spend their days in classes down a potholed road in a poor neighborhood of Liberia's battle-shattered capital, Monrovia. They earn US$30 (24.88) a month during training.

Teachers instruct the women in darning, sewing and hemming, hoping they will go on to help mend the torn fabric of Liberian society. "We've experienced the war. Now we want peace and to put the broken pieces of this society together, to have a better future for our families," said Lucy Page, director of Community Empowerment Program training the women.

"If Liberia is to be developed, we need to develop the skills of these women who fought for 14 years, to bring them into the mainstream of society," said the 61-year old Liberian. "Society needs women to take part in community affairs. She'll be a better housewife, make better choices for her family, children and community."

But it won't be easy. Page said many of the former fighters suffer from behavioral or psychological problems stemming, reports the AP. I.L.