Amanda Lindhout

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Amanda Lindhout
Amanda Lindhout
Photograph by Steven Carty
Born(1981-06-12) June 12, 1981 (age 32)
OccupationJournalist, Humanitarian
OrganizationGlobal Enrichment Foundation
Home townSylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada
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Amanda Lindhout
Amanda Lindhout
Photograph by Steven Carty
Born(1981-06-12) June 12, 1981 (age 32)
OccupationJournalist, Humanitarian
OrganizationGlobal Enrichment Foundation
Home townSylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

Amanda Lindhout (born June 12, 1981)[1] is a Canadian humanitarian and journalist. In 2008, she and members of her entourage were kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in southern Somalia. She was released 15 months later on November 25, 2009,[2] and has since embarked on a philanthropic career.[3]

Journalism career[edit]

Press TV[edit]

At the age of 24, Lindhout quit her job as a cocktail waitress to become a journalist.[4] She used her salary from the bar she worked at to finance reporting trips to various conflict zones around the world.[5]

Lindhout began her new journalism career in Afghanistan, arriving in the capital Kabul in May 2007. She later moved on to an assignment in Bagdhad, Iraq in January 2008,[4] where she worked on a freelance basis for Iran's Press TV.[6]

While in Iraq, Lindhout was kidnapped in Sadr City. She was released several hours later, after paying a ransom to her abductors.[4]

Red Deer Advocate[edit]

At the time of Lindhout's second abduction, this time in Somalia, she was reportedly not affiliated with any news organization other than Alberta's Red Deer Advocate.[5] She wrote a column for the small daily.[7]

Several media reports suggested that Lindhout was in Somalia on assignment for France 24. However, Nathalie Lenfant, a spokesman for the organization, indicated that Lindhout had only sent a few reports to the news agency from Iraq. Lenfant also stated that France24 had declined two proposals by Lindhout to serve as a correspondent for the organization in Iraq and Somalia, respectively. According to Lenfant, the news agency later decided to confirm that Lindhout was on a freelance assignment for it because France24 representatives "thought it would be better if she could be seen to be part of the structure of a larger company".[5]

Second abduction[edit]

On August 23, 2008, two days after having arrived in Mogadishu, Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, a 37-year-old freelance Australian photojournalist from Brisbane, were kidnapped along with their Somali translator, Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, their driver, Mahad Isse, and a driver from the Shamo Hotel, Marwali. They were on their way to conduct interviews at an IDP camp when they were stopped by gunmen.[8] The abductors were teenage insurgents from the Hizbul Islam fundamentalist group.[3]

On September 17, Al Jazeera featured footage of Lindhout and Brennan in captivity surrounded by gunmen.[9] On October 13, 2008, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$2.5 million by October 28. On February 23, 2009, the Canadian Association of Journalists urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help secure the release of Lindhout and Khadija Abdul Qahaar, a Canadian woman who was kidnapped in November.[10]

Elmi and the two drivers were released on January 15, 2009.[11] The kidnappers later lowered the ransom demand to $1 million.[12]

On June 10, 2009, CTV News received a phone call from a tearful Lindhout who seemed to be reading a statement: "My name is Amanda Lindhout and I am a Canadian citizen and I've been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I'm in a desperate situation. I'm being kept in a dark, windowless, room in chains without any clean drinking water and little or no food. I've been very sick for months without any medicine.... I love my country and want to live to see it again. Without food or medicine, I will die here."[13]

On November 25, 2009, after 460 days as a hostage, Lindhout was released following a ransom payment.[14] Brennan had heard her tearfully asking her mother to take the entire $500,000 that his family had largely raised and use it to pay just for her.[15] She was hospitalized in Nairobi for two weeks and treated for acute malnourishment.[16]

Humanitarian career[edit]

Speaking engagements[edit]

Amanda Lindhout at a speaking engagement.

Lindhout studied Development Leadership at the COADY International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and is the executive director of the Global Enrichment Foundation.[17] Lindhout has become a much sought after speaker on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and women's rights.[18]

In 2009, Lindhout spoke alongside Eckhart Tolle, best-selling author of The Power of Now, in Vancouver on the power of forgiveness.

In 2010 Lindhout addressed the United Nations Association in Ottawa, Canada about women's rights.[19]

In July 2010 Google Ideas had Lindhout moderate a panel of former violent extremists at the Summit Against Violent Extremism in Dublin, Ireland. The event was the largest gathering of former violent extremists to ever take place and was organized by Google, the Council of Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival. Lindhout moderated a panel which included a former Somali militant with Al-Shabaab, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shepard observed the tension on stage:

"The only detectable moment came during a panel moderated by Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian journalist who was held hostage in Somalia for 460 days, and Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who left Toronto to fight with Al Shabab during Ethiopia’s invasion in 2008. Lindhout had asked Mohamed how he justified the deaths and injuries of civilians while a part of the Somali group, but instead he spoke of the political motivations as to why he went to fight with the Shabab."[20]

In 2013, Lindhout released a memoir, co-written with journalist Sara Corbett, titled A House In The Sky recounting her experience as a hostage. She indicated in the book that her motive for traveling to Somalia in the midst of an insurgency was the dearth of competition from other journalists covering the region, as well as the possibility of documenting unique human interest stories. Once held hostage, she alleged that she and Brennan were forcibly separated since they were not married, and that she was subsequently repeatedly tortured and raped by her teenage captors. It was also reported that Lindhout had given birth to a boy named Osama while in captivity, though she neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, only stating that she had endured grave atrocities that she would never reveal. Additionally, Lindhout asserted that she and Brennan had converted to Islam in order to both appease their abductors and make life easier for themselves.[21][22]

The Global Enrichment Foundation[edit]

In 2010, Lindhout founded the Global Enrichment Foundation to create more opportunities in Somalia by offering university scholarships to women. Lindhout currently serves as the organization's Executive Director, with Ahmed Hussen, the president of the Canadian Somali Congress, acting as the Fund's co-director.[3] Aurala Warsame, a Somali researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, supervises the program and vetted the first applicants.[23]

In response to why she established the Foundation despite her ordeal, Lindhout told the CBC's The National "You can very easily go into anger and bitterness and revenge thoughts and resentment and 'Why me?'[...] Because I had something very, very large and very painful to forgive, and by choosing to do that, I was able to put into place my vision, which was making Somalia a better place[...] I've never questioned whether or not it was the right thing to do[...] What else to do after the experience that I had, than something like this?"[23]

In conjunction with various private university institutions across Somalia, the GEF's Somali Women's Scholarship Program (SWSP) offers higher education opportunities to women in Somalia on a contribution basis.[24] Lindhout's foundation aims to annually send 100 women in the country to university for the next four years,[3] and is sponsoring tertiary education for 36 women, who are expected to go on to become teachers, doctors, environmentalists and engineers, among other professions. The GEF also started the SHE WILL micro-loan initiative to financially empower widows and other Somali women.[25]

In response to the 2011 Eastern Africa drought, the GEF put into motion its Convoy for Hope program.[26] The initiative received a $1 million USD donation from the Chobani Yoghurt company.[27] As part of the GEF, teachers with the Memorial Composite also raised funds to sponsor the Sankaroos women's basketball team of Abaarso School in Somalia,[25][28] and a group of high school students in Alberta raised over $23,000 to support the GEF's educational work.[29]

In 2012, Lindhout was featured as the face of jewelry company Hillberg & Berk's spring/summer 2012 'Najo Rajo' Collection of Hope. The Regina, Saskatchewan based company donated $15,000 towards the Global Enrichment Foundation's Somali Women's Scholarship Program for Amanda's participation.[30]

Return to Africa[edit]

Lindhout's work for the Global Enrichment Foundation eventually drew her back to Somalia in July 2011. Accompanied by CBC's The National, who filmed a documentary about her titled Return To Africa,[31] Lindhout visited the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya to research a $60 million educational project for children in the camp, many of whom fled the conflict in southern Somalia. Lindhout attempted to reconcile her fear of abduction with her deep commitment to helping the asylum seekers. However, her efforts were criticized by Badu Katelo, Kenya's commissioner for refugees, who suggested that the best solution to the issue was through military intervention in Somalia's conflict zones. Katelo characterized Lindhout's initiative as "small [...] It's a drop in the ocean. It's not anything to rely on to bring peace to Somalia. I think if education was to bring peace in Somalia, then it should've happened a long time ago because in 1991, when refugees came here, they were all educated". Lindhout responded that "to anyone who's questioning us right now, that's fine[...] That's fair. It is an incredibly challenging environment to work in, but time will tell the story."[32]

On August 4, 2011, Lindhout travelled back to Somalia for the first time since her captivity. Leading a large convoy carrying food aid for 14,000 people in the southern Somalia town of Dobley, she was welcomed by Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. Lindhout described the trip as also "an opportunity for me to look at that fear and maybe let it go — this fear that I have been carrying around with me for some time".[33] Her Convoys For Hope project has continued to provided relief and expects to assist 300,000 more people.[34]

Awards and honours[edit]

In June of 2012, Amanda received the Red Deer Women of Excellence Award in Human Services in recognition of her leadership, compassion and practice in human service programs within the community.[35]

In March 2012, Lindhout accepted an invitation from former President of the United States Bill Clinton to participate on a panel at the annual Clinton Global Initiative University about her humanitarian work in the Horn of Africa with the Global Enrichment Foundation.[36][37]

In spring of 2012 Amanda was asked to be photographed for the book 100 Making a Difference by celebrity photographer John Russo, alongside such public figures as Sophia Loren, Prince Edward, Michelle Obama and Al Gore.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amanda Lindhout turns 28". 2009-06-12. Archived from the original on 2 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  2. ^ "Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout freed". 2009-11-25. Archived from the original on 28 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d Woods, Allan (2010-05-25). "Amanda Lindhout Speaks out for women in Somalia". Toronto Star. 
  4. ^ a b c "Nigel Brennan and Amanda Lindhout's horrific ordeal as hostages in Somalia". Herald Sun. 2 September. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Austen, Ian (29 November 2013). "For Novice Journalists, Rising Risks in Conflict Zones". New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "The work of kidnapped journalist Amanda Lindhout". National Post. 2009-08-23. Retrieved 2009-11-25. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Canadian Amanda Lindhout freed in Somalia". CBC. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  8. ^ "Canadian journalist reported abducted in Somalia". 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  9. ^ "Foreign media say Somali kidnappers will kill Lindhout if ransom isn't paid". 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  10. ^ "No word on Alberta journalist kidnapped in Somalia". 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  11. ^ "". 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  12. ^ Dawn Walton (2009-08-04). "". Toronto: Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  13. ^ "Kidnapped Alberta journalist calls CTV News". CTV. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Canadian Amanda Lindhout freed in Somalia". (CBC). 2009-11-25. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Freed foreign journalists in Kenyan hospital". (Seattle Times). 2009-11-26. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "The Global Enrichment Foundation, founded by Amanda Lindhout-developing strengths already within women to assist them in changing their lives". 2010-08-24. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  18. ^ Concrete / Visia. "Amanda Lindhout | Global Enrichment Foundation | Lavin Speaker Profile". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  19. ^ "Kathleen's interview with Amanda Lindhout". CBC Radio ( Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Shephard, Michelle (2011-06-28). "Ex-skinhead, former Islamic radical open summit against extremism". Toronto Star (Toronto Star). Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Mohan, Keerthi (2 September 2013). "Amanda Lindhout, Who Was Held Captive In Somalia For 15 Months, Opens Up About The Ordeal". International Business Times. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  22. ^ Callahan, Maureen (1 September 2013). "Naive reporter’s living hell as Somalia hostage". New York Post. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  23. ^ a b "Amanda Lindhout Forgives Captors". CBC. 2010-08-24. 
  24. ^ "Somali Women's Scholarship Program". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  25. ^ a b "Amanda Lindhout - GEF" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  26. ^ "Convoy for Hope". 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  27. ^ "Chobani Pledges $1 million to Famine Relief in Africa". 
  28. ^ (2011-05-12). "Teachers spread hope through sport". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  29. ^ "Students answer call to empower women half a world away". 
  30. ^ Clarke, Brennan (Dec 21, 2011). "Regina jewellery maker banks on reflected shine of stars". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  31. ^ "Amanda Lindhout - Back to Africa". CBC's The National (CBC). 2011-09-02. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  32. ^ "Lindhout returns to Africa after kidnapping". (CBC). 2011-09-01. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  33. ^ Snow, Kate. "Once a kidnap victim in Somalia, she returns to help". The Today Show. MSNBC. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  34. ^ "Lindhout's mission aims to feed 300,000 Somalis". Red Deer Express. Red Deer Express. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  35. ^ Stokoe, Jeff (June 12, 2012). "Advocate Staff". Red Deer Advocate. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  36. ^ "Local activist recognized by Clinton Global Initiative". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  37. ^ "Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Poverty, Hunger, and Insecurity". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  38. ^ [1]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]