Amanda Lindhout, a former journalist originally from Sylvan Lake who was held captive for over a year in Somalia, visited Red Deer last week where she spoke at the Grey Matters 2014 conference.
The conference focused primarily on aging and senior support, with Lindhout speaking on the importance of freedom through forgiveness.
Currently Lindhout is travelling around the world to promote her memoir, A House In The Sky, which was recently purchased by Annapurna Pictures and is set to be produced into a major Hollywood movie with actress Rooney Mara to play Lindhout.
“I was approached by quite a number of directors and producers and actresses who were interested in turning my story into a film. I was never interested in any of the offers that were coming my way and it wasn’t quite my goal,” said Lindhout earlier this summer during an interview with the Express.
“The only reason things really changed for me was I got a letter through my agent from Rooney Mara. She had read the book and was so emotionally impacted by the book. She wrote me this really emotional, thoughtful and deeply compassionate letter and she let me know that if I was ever thinking about turning the book into a film that she would really like to talk to me about it,” she said, adding she wrote Mara back and suggested they have a discussion about it. “We ended up meeting with my co-author Sara in Maine last fall and immediately I felt the same kind of connection with Rooney as I did with Sara.”
During her speech in front of a full house at the conference she told her story of how she ventured to Somalia as a war correspondent with her colleague Nigel Brennan, a photographer originally from Australia.
“If you don’t know, Somalia is a small country on the horn of Africa which is one of the poorest countries in the entire world,” said Lindhout about the country she was held captive in. “It is a country that is largely controlled by armed extremist groups, it’s a place where women’s rights are practically non-existent and it is often referred to in the media as the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet.”
When they were kidnapped on their way to a displaced persons camp, Lindhout thought her life was over.
“We got into our S.U.V. which we had rented with the three security guards we had arranged for and set off to the camp,” she explained. “I could see a car pulled off the side of the road and in a country as poor as Somalia, a car alone is enough to draw your attention – what followed was very much like a Hollywood movie.”
She explained a dozen armed men emerged from where they had been hiding behind the vehicle where they spread out across the road, forcing Lindhout’s vehicle to stop. For over 500 days to follow that fateful day young Somalian boys and men held Lindhout and her companion captive.
Upon her release Lindhout said she was rightfully filled with anger towards her captors, however it was through the power of forgiveness and finding a way to forgive her captors that she was able to move on and find her own personal form of freedom.
This led to the publishing of her memoir, co-written by New York Times contributor Sara Corbett, as well as the creation of her charity, the Global Enrichment Foundation which aims to bring education to the women of Somalia.
A House in the Sky has been on the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Maclean’s and the New York Times’ bestseller lists. It was also included in The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2013, The Quill and Quire’s 2013 Books of the Year and was one of New York Times’ Notable Books of 2013, among others.