Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped and held for 460 days in Somalia, during which she endured beatings, gang rape, and starvation.
Now the Canadian adventurer and aspiring journalist is recounting the experience, saying she has actually come to forgive her captors.
Her memoir about the experience, A House in the Sky, tells of how Lindhout decided to go to Somalia in an attempt to win her way into the news industry. Lindhout had been backpacking around the globe for years, traveling to South America and across Africa, and thought Somalia would put her on the map as a journalist.
Amanda Lindhuot was 27 years old when she landed in Mogadishu in 2008. There she met an ex-boyfriend, Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, who agreed to join her for the journey. But within days, a group of Somali militants captured the couple and demanded a large ransom.
The demands were so high that the families of the captives could not afford to pay and their governments would not help, so eventually the militants relented and dropped their asking price.
It still took 460 days for family and friends to collect the ransom money, a time in which Lindhout nearly died from her maltreatment. She had a fungus grow inside her mouth and down her neck, and her toenails fell off.
During their captivity Brennan converted to Islam, which caused the captors to heap more abuse on Lindhout. To escape the mental anguish of captivity, Lindhout said she invented a “house in the sky” where she could escape to when the abuse became too much to handle.
Lindhout says she still wakes up with nightmares that she’s back in Somalia, but has worked hard to put the dark period behind her. She has now founded Global Enrichment Foundation, a group that helps women in Somalia and Kenya with their education. She has even returned to Somalia, moderating a panel that included a former Somali militant. Amanda says she has even come to forgive her captors.
Amanda Lindhout now says the experience gave her new resolve in her work to help the Somali people, but she is also moving on with her life back home. She has an apartment in the Canadian Rockies, and this year started to travel internationally again. This summer she completed a hike across a mountainous region of India.