Dressed in a cream and brown dress and high heels,Amanda Lindhout can be mistaken for any Caucasian supermodel. It is only when she talks,one can see that she is not. I was kidnapped,abused and held captive for more than 15 months in Somalia, says Lindhout.
In the city to speak at the launch of the Pune Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO),a global non-profit organisation formed for and by budding and established entrepreneurs,noted humanitarian and former journalist Lindhout spoke about her time in captivity in a remote place in Somalia.
The Pune Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organisation has several businessmen from Pune such as Atul Goel,Yogesh Goel and Chetan Wakalkar,among others.
Lindhout,32,who now lives in Canada,has reported from war zones in Africa,Iraq and Afghanistan in the past,and wrote for a newspaper in Red Deer,Alta,the area where she spent most of her childhood. She was in Somalia working as a freelance reporter when she was kidnapped on August 23,2008,along with Australian photojournalist and friend Nigel Brennan. Lindhout and Brennan were in captivity for almost 15 months.
We were traveling in a vehicle and were stopped by gunmen as we were going to visit a refugee camp on the outskirts of the Somalian capital,Mogadishu. The abductors were teenage insurgents from a fundamentalist group, said Lindhout.
For the first five months,Nigel and I were kept in small,separate rooms,with some room for communication. But after we tried to escape,I was put in a dark room and chained. I was not allowed to speak or even to make a sound, recounted Lindhout. On October 13,2008,the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $2.5 million from her father over phone.
On November 25,2009,after 460 days as a hostage,Lindhout was released after her family paid ransom.
When I saw myself in the mirror after being freed,I could not recognise myself. There were bald patches on my scalp,my hair had fallen off,seven of my teeth were missing,and I was covered in bruises and scars, she recounts. Lindhout as hospitalised in Nairobi,Kenya for two weeks and treated for acute malnourishment before she went back home.
After she went back to Canada,in 2010,Lindhout founded the Global Enrichment Foundation,an incorporated non-profit organisation that seeks to promote peace and development in Somalia.
They promote sustainable education and community-based empowerment programs,while undertaking humanitarian and life-saving emergency interventions in times of crisis.