Red Deer native Amanda Lindhout was working as a freelance journalist in Somalia in August of 2008 working on a story about refugees when she was kidnapped with Australian photojournalist and colleague Nigel Brennan by a band of young Somali gunmen. During her 458 day captivity she was tortured and abused, often left in chains in a small dark room.
Like thousands of others worldwide who prayed for the release of Amanda and Nigel, I followed the story and held my breath. Amanda, with Nigel, was released in November 2009 and returned home to Canada after 15 months in captivity. It was a time of darkness difficult to imagine, and yet what is perhaps more remarkable than the fact that she survived the terrible ordeal, is the grace and vision with which she now lives.
Since her release, Amanda has launched The Global Enrichment Foundation which seeks to build stronger communities, cultivate leadership and promote peace through education in even the most poverty-stricken and violent of countries. The Foundation’s first initiative is the Somali Women’s Scholarship Program (SWSP).
It was my privilege to help Amanda put together a site for the Foundation, and to conduct the following interview, which took place via email, amidst her busy schedule.
Andrew Kooman: I’ve heard you talk about forgiveness, and that though not an easy thing or a straightforward path, that you’ve forgiven your captors. How essential has forgiving these Somali men been in your process of returning to normal life in the days since your release?
Amanda Lindhout: Forgiving the teenagers who took away my freedom for almost a year and half was essential to surviving my time in captivity. On a daily basis, while still a hostage, I set aside ‘gratitude time’ each evening where I would reflect on any moments of goodness I had seen in my captors. This helped me to remember that all human beings are essentially good, even if they are choosing to act in disharmony with that. Despite the abuse I endured constantly, I never doubted that those boys had inside of them the same spirit that I have, which is what all of humanity shares and which connects us.
AK: Your experience, from what I’ve heard and understand of it, seems unimaginable to me. You seem so resilient and strong. What was your survival strategy; how did you endure those long 15 months?
AL: I survived those long months in captivity by staying absolutely focused on the joy that can be found inside oneself. When you are locked up alone and shackled in a dark room, you realize that happiness doesn’t stem from external circumstances, and that despite whatever painful, difficult experiences you may be going through, you always have the power to transcend it by connecting to the source of peace which is within all of us.....
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW AT http://andrewkooman.com/archives/4155