Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 9 News List

Former child soldier struggles to find her feet as Colombia contemplates peace

‘Melida’ struggles to adjust to the chores and daily classes at a center meant to rehabilitate child soldiers, and is drawn to her past life

By Nicholas Casey  /  NY Times News Service, CALDAS, Colombia

Melida’s relationship with her father remains strained. They rarely talk about her life in rebel hands.

On a recent day, Melida was recovering from a blow to her face.

“She started to argue with me and I hit her,” said Moises, looking at the ground.

Recently, Melida’s cousin Leila, the former FARC member, committed suicide. Melida sometimes travels to visit the unmarked grave.

Dora said Melida is too strong to take her own life. However, she worries Melida might return to the guerrillas.

“She is a good mother and puts her daughter first,” Dora said. “But she also tells me she is bored and doesn’t like this life, and I tell her: ‘If you want to leave, then leave, but think of the girl. Leave Celeste with me.’”

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