How Amanda Lindhout survived her darkest days

Following her release from captivity, Amanda Lindhout found the strength to resume travelling and start the non-profit Global Enrichment Foundation (Photo courtesy Amanda Lindhout)


You likely learned of Amanda Lindhout's harrowing ordeal in Somalia from headlines and news reports. The then 27-year-old freelance reporter was kidnapped in August 2008, along with Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan and their Somali translator and driver.

She spent 15 months shackled and locked in a shed, facing torture and abuse at the hands of her captors.

But nowadays one cannot speak of the cruelty Lindhout endured without also describing the compassion she has spread since her release.

VIDEO | You can also opt to watch Jian's conversation with Lindhout (Article continues below the video)

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Not only did Lindhout continue to travel despite her kidnapping, she has made it her mission to leave the world better than she found it -- from making amends with anyone she'd wronged in her personal life to starting the non-profit Global Enrichment Foundation.

Lindhout joins Jian to talk about her memoir, A House in the Sky, which takes readers beyond the news coverage to reveal how those dark days have fueled her passion for humanitarian work.

"Everyday I have many choices to make about who I want to be," she said, adding that finding a place of forgiveness was a complex journey.

Lindhout explains compassion for captors

Lindhout told Jian that she felt a complex myriad of different emotions, including anger, hatred and resentment long before she felt compassion -- but, though difficult, she did find a space within herself from which she could forgive.

"It was a slow understanding that my kidnappers really are a product of their environment ... this country that has been devastated by two decades of conflict," she said, adding that her teenage kidnappers were also caught up in the cycle of war and violence.

"While they were the perpetuators of the violence towards me, they were also somehow the victims of the violence of the country itself. From that perspective, it's not such a stretch to imagine you could feel something like compassion towards those individuals and the situation as a whole."

You can read or listen to an excerpt of Lindhout's book on her website. Please share your reactions to her story in the comments below.

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