The Current

'Hope is something that I never gave up on': A mother's fight to free daughter Amanda Lindhout

In 2008, Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia. Her mother, Lorinda Stewart, spent 460 days doing everything in her power to bring her daughter home.
Amanda Lindhout and her mother, Lorinda Stewart, on captivity and freedom. 4:41

For 460 agonizingly long days, Amanda Lindhout lived in captivity.

On August 23, 2008, Lindhout, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, was kidnapped in Somalia where they'd been travelling as freelance journalists.

This month, Lindhout faces one of her accused captors in an Ontario courtroom as he stands trial for his alleged role in her kidnapping.

Ali Omar Ader, a 40-year-old Somali national, was the man on the other end of the phone during the months Amanda's mother Lorinda Stewart negotiated for her daughter's life.

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, November 26, 2009, a day after they were freed from kidnappers who held them for 15 months. (Government of Somalia/Reuters)

Lindhout took the stand confronting one of her accused kidnappers for the first time since her abduction.

"I actually feel, and this is kind of exciting, like a deep healing has taken place. Something has changed inside of me. I feel that in the deepest parts of my being," Lindhout tells The Current's host Anna Maria Tremonti about the trial. 

The Sylvan Lake Operational Centre where Amanda Lindhout's mother, Lorinda Stewart, took calls from the kidnappers. (John Lindhout)

The court also heard audio of phone calls between Ali Omar Ader and Lorinda Stewart, who was the lead negotiator during the months her daughter was held hostage. The RCMP set up a command centre in a rented house in Sylvan Lake, AB. But eventually this command centre was dismantled, leaving Stewart on her own.

Related: Amanda Lindhout and mom share painful phone call from captivity

Stewart never gave up in her efforts to bring her daughter home and now she's sharing her side of the story in a new book, One Day Closer: A Mother's Quest to Bring Her Kidnapped Daughter Home.

"Hope is something that I never gave up on. I never for one moment considered that she wouldn't come home and that became my strength and my determination that I wouldn't even think anything other than that," she tells Tremonti. 

Lorinda's poster includes days held in captivity, days since last proof of life, and days since her last conversation with hostage takers. The number in the corner (60) represents how many days since Lorinda had last spoke to her Amanda. (John Lindhout)

That hope was tested at times, including during one awful phone call from her Amanda after she'd been tortured, where she's begging for her mother to send the money.

"When I heard her voice pleading like that it was extremely difficult, but I had to stay focused on that day that she would come home because if I broke down and I fell apart I couldn't help her," Stewart tells Tremonti. 

Phone call between Amanda Lindhout, held captive in Somalia, and her mother. 2:25

Eventually, Stewart and Lindhout's family and friends managed to raise the ransom and secure her release. 

But in the days and months spent trying to free her daughter, Stewart says she coped by focusing on being thankful. 

"When times were the most difficult ... I would keep bringing myself back to gratitude which may sound odd but it was when I would start to think of all the things I had to be thankful for it would raise my optimism," Stewart tells Tremonti. 

Stewart says she had a mantra she repeated to herself, day after agonizing day. She told herself, "Each day is one day closer to bringing Amanda home." 

It helped her cope throughout the worst moments.

Both Amanda Lindhout and her mother Lorinda Stewart have always been very close. They both say during the agonizing 460 days Lindhout was held captive in Somalia, they both thought of each other to get through. (Lorinda Stewart)

For her part, Lindhout says thinking about her mother helped her endure hellish conditions. 

"My core is my mother and I felt a connection to her every day in captivity. I would have conversations with her in my mind. I named my book, A House in the Sky, because I wrote about this world in my imagination that I build where anything was possible," she explains.

"In my house in the sky, I was with my mom every day. I knew my mom would never stop trying. I knew my mom would never give up."

Listen to the full conversation with Lorinda Stewart and her daughter Amanda Lindhout.

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith.