Smart Risk Magazine Spring 2018 | Page 19

SPRING 2018 “Just seeing his face again for me brings back real, true, hard memories of that time in my life,” she says. “Seeing his image has just been haunting me.” Self-forgiveness is another hill Amanda must climb. She tries to stay strong in the face of criticism regarding her decision to travel within a country so dangerous in the first place and of the unimaginable strain she put her family through. Of that, she says, “I’m still going through this process of forgiveness with my family. It hasn’t been easy to forgive myself. But at the same time, I don’t want to beat myself up for something I can’t change.” BUILDING HER FUTURE Instead, Amanda has devoted her life over the past six years toward helping disadvantaged women in Somalia through her Global Enrichment Foundation. Founded by Amanda in 2010, the foundation’s Somali Women’s Scholarship Program (SWSP) aims to send one hundred women to university annually, among other initiatives. In response to questions about why she established the foundation, Amanda told CBC’s The National, “You can very easily go into anger and bitterness and revenge thoughts and resentment and ‘Why me?’...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.” In 2011, two years after her release, she travelled to Kenya for several weeks to see the Somali refugee camps firsthand – a trip she terms part therapy and part research for her charity. The fear she felt upon seeing a road similar to the one from which she was abducted, she says, was so intense, it almost took her breath away. Amanda revels in her positive energy now, as evidenced by a November 2016 Facebook post that illustrates just how far she has come. Alongside a cheeky beachfront photo of her bare feet she writes: “There is so much beauty in life AMANDA LINDHOUT that it’s hard to take it all in! Tears come easily these days from a wellspring of gratitude. I used to ask "Why me?" and now I am asking "What is the gift?" I have the opportunity to transform the painful experiences in my life into healing, growth and purpose.