The process of forgiveness has been a long and ongoing journey for one former Central Albertan who was kidnapped while working as a journalist in Somalia.
Amanda Lindhout, who was held captive in Somalia for 15 months and released in late 2009, was the keynote speaker at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast held Wednesday morning in Red Deer.
Founder and director of the Global Enrichment Foundation, Lindhout spoke about the need for compassion, the triumph of personal transformation and the process of forgiveness during the breakfast.
“Whenever I give a talk, I incorporate the message of forgiveness,” said Lindhout. “I believe we need to have a more compassionate approach to life.
“When you turn on the news, you hear the same sad story. We are living in a time with heightened fear and tension. We have not succeeded in bringing about peace in our world. We need to revive and strengthen our inner values.”
In the summer of 2008, Lindhout headed to Somalia while researching a story on the conditions of an internally displaced people’s camp outside the Mogadishu.
On her third day there, she was kidnapped and held hostage for 460 days. She was eventually released after a ransom payment was delivered to her captors.
“I have really had to reach deep within myself. I have had to reflect on my whole life,” said Lindhout. “When you don’t know if you will live the next day you realize that you hang onto useless emotions and it’s not important.
“For me the process of forgiveness is a daily one and I hope my message will resonate with people.”
Only four months after her release, Lindhout established the Global Enrichment Foundation.
From that the Somali Women’s Program was launched as a means to empower the most oppressed members of Somali society – women.
Already there is much to celebrate. This past September, the first 11 recipients started university.
This year, 25 more women will begin university classes.
“I’m very excited that 36 amazing young women will have the opportunity to further their education,” said Lindhout.
As of late, Lindhout said she has been fully engaged in writing a book, which she describes as a story of a young woman traveling around the world.
“It’s not focused on a kidnapping but rather on my life’s journey.”
She has also been focused on growing the Foundation.
“We have now developed a program called SHE WILL and it is a micro finance initiative that will help women in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya.”
Lindhout will travel to Kenya in May and hand out small business loans that range from $25 to $250.
“These loans will give women the opportunity to establish a business,” she said. “I cannot wait to go.”
After her ordeal in Somalia, one would think Lindhout would head these initiatives from home.
“I’m really not feeling nervous about going to Kenya – it’s not Somalia,” said Lindhout. “It’s quite a safe country and I refuse to let fear limit what I’m going to do in my life. I feel like I am living my life’s purpose right now with the Foundation.”
For more information on the Global Enrichment Foundation visit www.globalenrichmentfoundation.com.