Forgiveness and New Skills in Liberia

Image by:
Jonas Ekstr??mer/WCC
Source: New World Outlook

Robert is a soft-spoken 14-year-old who??learned to use an AK-47 rifle when he was eight years old.?????I was often really afraid,??? he recalled. ???Now I???m learning to be a carpenter, but I first want to go back to school before starting to work.???

Tom was 13 when he was forced to join a rebel group. ???I was forced to fight because I was separated from my parents,??? he said. ???I am haunted by what we did during the war.???

At 17, Momo Famol?? is without a family and without work. He was 10 when soldiers he encountered forced him to the front. He fought so he could eat. ???I???m happy there???s peace now in Liberia.???

These are the voices of former combatants in Liberia???s 14-year civil conflict who live together in a??camp near Monrovia, the capital city. Here they have begun a transition back into their communities.

A majority of Liberian respondents in a 2010 nationwide survey says they are willing to forgive those responsible for the country's 14-year civil conflict.
A majority of Liberians who responded to a 2010 nationwide survey said they believe those responsible for the country’s 14-year civil conflict should be forgiven.

The camp is operated by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). In partnership with other humanitarian groups, UMCOR provides a place??where people like Robert, Tom, and Momo??can live and find basic necessities, such as fresh drinking water and medical treatment, as well as trauma counseling and reintegration activities.

Thousands of soldiers??demobilized at four such camps throughout Liberia??in the first few years after the program??began in 2004. Once reviled, they are now learning new literacy and work skills.

In the words of??one??camp missionary, ???We must forgive all the excombatants. Jesus requires us to forgive without keeping score. Why do we continue our efforts? Because if only one young man or woman comes to understand the meaning of forgiveness, then it is worth the effort.???

Read the full story??“Forgiveness and New Skills in Liberia.”??Learn about the International Forgiveness Institute’s involvement in Liberia’s nationwide Forgiveness Education Program by reading the Feb. 26 post at Dr. Bob’s Blog.