Amanda Lindhout who endured 15 months being held hostage, is speaking out and raising money on behalf of women in Somalia.
ransom money were not paid by her family and the family of Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan.“Their belief system allowed them to abuse me in very specific ways … and it’s reflective of their view of women,” she said in an interview.
“The same men who are placing all these outrageous restrictions on women’s freedoms in southern Somalia – that type of mentality – that’s what I had to deal with in captivity.”
But the dozen teenaged boys who held her hostage also unwittingly gave her the spark that is now fuelling the 28-year-old Albertan, even as she tries to recover from her ordeal.
“I used to wonder how they would have been different if they had had the opportunity to have an education, to understand something of a broader world view and learn something about tolerance,” she said.
Six months after the Lindhout and Brennan families paid a reported $600,000 ransom for their release, the freelance journalist has become an advocate and aid worker.
She is targeting the very nation that left her traumatized and her family in financial ruin with a scholarship that aims to send 100 Somali women to university annually for the next four years.
“This has blown away our minds because for someone who went through what she went through to come back and say, ‘I want to do something to alleviate some of the suffering of the women there,’ it’s very very touching,” said Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress and co-director of Lindhout’s Global Enrichment Fund.
“It’s a very real and tangible project because it’s going to educate these people in their own country.”
What Lindhout went through remains shrouded in a sort of cloak, one she is unwilling to pull back for the moment.
She and Brennan were abducted along with a local driver, fixer and translator on Aug. 23, 2008, two days after arriving in Mogadishu. They were on their way to interview refugees at a camp.
They were shuttled between up to a dozen safehouses while in captivity, but were poorly fed, beaten, tortured and locked in separate rooms, rarely seeing one another. All the while the threat of death hung over their heads as the kidnappers tried to negotiate a ransom payment for their release.
Brennan, who has also said little since they were released, said that Lindhout was “severely beaten” and they both endured mental and physical torture...MORE..