"Everyone knew that if you were a young girl, you would work in the day and be worked at night...I did not want to go with the the soldiers."
Martha runs a small shop out of her home and tends a garden in the field next to it, working around the hulks of derelict tanks that serve as her children’s play equipment. Looking at her, you would not guess the horrors she has seen and endured.
One of the most entertaining stories that was shared during this project was Martha’s ingenious strategy to avoid being taken by soldiers.
She explained that each time soldiers came to her community, they would take people, forcing them into heavy labor. Young girls would be slaves day and night, raped repeatedly by their captors. So whenever they came into the town, Martha hid in her house, staying very quiet.
One day, fighters came into her house and found her. They ordered her to go outside with the rest of the captured slaves. Terrified at the possibility of being 'married' to a fighter or passed around a group, Martha made herself vomit. As she told the story, she acted out what she had done, making a big show of feeling sick and then vomiting all over.
The soldiers left her there.
Why? Because she had figured out what they were afraid of. In war-torn Liberia, medical care was virtually non-existent and diseases such as cholera and typhoid were rampant. Martha convinced the soldiers that she was too dangerous to be a worthwhile target.