Recently, while reading A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout, I found myself so totally and completely captivated by her prose that I started hiding away in the bathroom just to finish a few more pages. I’d also flick on the T.V a little earlier than normal for my kids and I was staying up later than I have since the eighth week of this pregnancy. The book was so moving, so jarring, so incredibly claustrophobic and beautiful at the same time, that I just wanted to get to the end so that she’d be okay.
A House In The Sky tells the story of Amanda Lindhout in first person with co-author Sara Corbett, covering Lindhout’s experience of being held hostage for 460 days in Somalia after many years of backpacking around the world and eventually starting to work as a journalist. After living in Afghanistan and Iraq, carving out a career as a television reporter, Lindhout decided to make the trek to Somalia to try and show the decent side of war-torn countries. She was not given that chance.
Instead she was captured after four days, along with her photographer friend Nigel Brennan, and subjected to ongoing gang rapes, isolation, and starvation. She converted to Islam as a survival tactic and did her best to keep her spunky spirit alive inside but as I read these pages and felt the complete barbaric nature of her captors, I thought, nobody is that solid. She was kept in chains in a dark room, starved and raped repeatedly by a group of teenaged boys for many months.
So when she was released fifteen months after being captured, Lindhout returned to Canada and began to heal. Rather than allow the hatred and anger to seep into her soul and take hostage any goodness in her after an experience like this, she became a much sought after speaker on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and women’s rights.
She started a non-profit organization called the Global Enrichment Foundation that promotes peace and development in Somalia through sustainable educational and community-based empowerment programs, while undertaking humanitarian and life-saving emergency interventions in times of crisis. She went back to the place that had imparted so much horror on her life just to make it better. She used her awful experience as an impetus for change.
Lindhout is not your average woman. She is not your average person. She is an example of how incredibly strong one can be in the face of total injustice and evil and how even years later, it cannot and will not destroy the spirit one has within.