Some of the most unpleasant people just need a little love. For it was the Dalai Lama XIV who once said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” When I remember this quote only one person comes to mind: Amanda Lindhout, a Kidnap Survivor and Founder of The Global Enrichment Foundation. You may have seen or heard her story broadcasted across all major news networks at some point this year. Her story of strength and forgiveness has graced the pages of Vogue, Elle, The New York Times and has garnered international headlines.
Last Thursday, I had the honor of attending a speaking conference hosted by The National Speakers Bureau which featured Amanda Lindhout and 5 other entrepreneurs who are changing the way we see the world like Gabrielle Scrimshaw, Co-Founder of Aboriginal Professional Assn of Canada and Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of G Adventures, a business he started with 2 credit cards and 23 years later it’s now worth multi-millions.
As Amanda took centre stage and shared the details of her extraordinary experience being held hostage for 460 days by teenage militants in Somalia, I almost fell apart. Here, standing in front of me, was a young women who had gone through more than what most people would experience in a lifetime yet during what seemed like an eternity, she was able to find gratitude in small moments like when her kidnappers would greet or feed her. Held captive in many dark, cold rooms alongside mold, rats and cockroaches, Amanda was no longer able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures such as the cool breeze hitting her face or the sight of the blue sky; things we often take for granted. Amanda had gone through the unimaginable, but it was her ability to maintain love and compassion, for the same people who tortured her, that helped her survive the battle. In the end, her family and community were able to re-negotiate the 1.5 million dollar ransom requested by the rebels and meet the new agreement. Amanda was released and her life would never be the same again. Today, the former freelance journalist has dedicated her life towards teaching others about the power of forgiveness. She is still passionate for the people of Somalia and has raised millions through her organization, The Global Enrichment Foundation, to support development and aid in the war-torn country reaching over 300,000 people.
Planting seeds of compassion is a choice. Life has its bad moments but if you try to find the good you’ll soon realize it’s all around you. If you’re alive, there is a purpose for your life. The struggle is only part of the story.
Amanda recently released a book called, A House in the Sky. It is currently sitting at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.
Peace & Love,
(left) Sara Corbett (right) Amanda Lindhout