Journalist shares story of strength and survival

Amanda Lindhout speaks with the public queuing up to purchase her book, ‘A House in the Sky’. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Ten years ago, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was abducted and held captive by insurgents in Somalia for 460 days in an effort to extort ransom money.

Today, her story is one of strength, resilience and survival. She shared her incredible and inspiring story with an audience of over 475 individuals at the Power of the Purse fundraising luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton Friday.

The fundraiser, hosted by Scotiabank, benefits the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, which offers support to victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Lindhout encouraged guests to look in their own tool boxes to harness the strength they possess and remember the power that what lies within.

Lindhout offered insight and intimate details into the horrors of being kidnapped, sexually victimised and deprived of the basic necessities of life. She talked about the strategies she used in her experience to survive, and how others can remain positive in traumatic situations.

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After countless trips to doctors for post traumatic stress disorder, Lindhout chose to turn her experiences into a life with purpose and has travelled to over 29 countries to tell her story, detailed in her memoir ‘A House in the Sky’.

Working as a freelance journalist in Somalia, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Lindhout spent more than a year as a hostage, surviving on strategy, fortitude and hope in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The conference Friday brought together women of all backgrounds to ignite their faith, strengthen families, celebrate women in the community, and provide a forum to network, give back and become inspired.

Denise Gower, chair of the Crisis Centre board of directors, said the money raised from the Power of the Purse event will go toward regular operations at the centre.

“We need to raise about $325,000 a year just to keep the doors open and all of the programmes running,” Gower said. “Right now the house [we have for women in need] is only a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house serving 34 to 36 clients … people are sleeping on the floor and on couches and it’s bit crowded,” Gower said.

At the event, she said she was determined to raise $1 million because that was what they needed to build a purpose-built shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children.

She said she will also work to raise the money by hiking the Pacific Crest, a 2,650 mile trail through back country across the United States that starts at the Mexican border and finishes at the Canadian border. Her adventure starts in April 2020 and ends in October.

Power of the Purse continues to exceed fundraising targets, raising over $150,000 to date and helping women, men and children who are impacted by domestic abuse each year, said Dwight Burrows, Scotiabank managing director.

“What makes me especially proud is that 50 percent of the Cayman leadership team is comprised of dynamic, committed and aspiring women … most of who are here today,” he said.

He also acknowledged EY for their continued support and partnership of the event.

It would not be a Power of the Purse event without the opportunity to buy a designer bag at a discount. Dozens of women attending the event, eager to get their hands on a coveted designer purse, got some good deals on new and gently used purses such as a grey, double-flap Chanel handbag and a popular Ralph Lauren black purse, which generated lots of bids during the silent auction.

Lindhout’s  memoir, ‘A House in the Sky’, became a New York Times bestseller after its release in 2013. It was also in high demand at Friday’s event, as women lined up to meet the author and pick up a copy of her inspiring story.

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