Hers is the story that stayed with me long after We Day Atlantic ended.
Born in Red Deer, Alberta, Amanda Lindhout worked as a freelance journalist. On August 23rd, 2008, Amanda went to visit a refugee camp in Somalia. As she travelled along the road to the camp with her photographer friend, she was kidnapped and spent the next 459 days in captivity.
Amanda tells the story of losing her identity…her name itself had changed as her captives renamed her. While she endured abuse…she had control over her reaction to that abuse. She held on to her values, her dignity and who she was as a person despite repeated physical, sexual and emotional altercations.
At one point, Amanda and her friend attempted to escape…running to a mosque before being captured once again. There, a woman tried to help her…to no avail. Her eyes held onto Amanda’s…and those eyes, the strength in her determination…the “knowing” what she was going through at the hands of her abusers…those eyes gave Amanda the will to survive.
As I stood there captivated by her story, she told of her release…her return to freedom as she settled back into Canada…and her desire to want to change the lives of the women living in Somalia…the place that tried to take her soul…but lost.
In 2010, Amanda founded the non-profit Global Enrichment Foundation to help support education for women and girls in Somalia and Kenya.
Amanda told her story with great bravery and a resolve to change the world. Her voice echoed through me that despite the devastation…despite all that was taken from her in such a heinous way…despite all she’d been through…she could find joy in helping others.
For the second year, I was honoured to be a guest of Telus and take part in We Day Atlantic. I listened to motivational speakers and entertainers excite a crowd of young people.
Each and every one of us has the power to be better…to face our fears and challenges and rise above them. To care for those who don’t have the same power that we do…giving them the strength they need to help themselves.
Each of us, can change a person with a look, a helping hand, a smile…a willingness to put ourselves out there despite our fears.
Like Amanda Lindhout…who had every reason to feel bitter and powerless…and chose instead, to rise above.