Lindhout starts scholarship for Somali womens.

Halkaan ka akhri

An Alberta woman who was held hostage for more than 15 months in Somalia has started a foundation to send women in the war-torn country to university.

Amanda Lindhout hopes the charitable foundation will be able to send 10 women to school next year and 100 over the next four years.

“We’re specifically looking to empower and educate young Somali women who show leadership qualities,” Lindhout told reporters in a rare public appearance at a church in Red Deer, Alta., on Sunday.

“So, women that already possess those qualities and are ready to step into the role of leadership, we’re just giving them a helping hand to be the leaders that they naturally are.”

Lindhout said she came up with idea for the scholarship while she was in captivity.

“The experience in Somalia was the most difficult, violent and brutal thing that I’ve ever gone through but … in the heart of suffering lies the seeds of inspiration,” she said.

“I’m choosing to allow that inspiration to grow and the suffering is sort of pushing me forward into my life’s work, which is to be a humanitarian and help others.”

Lindhout said developing the program has helped her heal from the experience.

“I don’t feel like I left Somalia angry,” she said.

“I realized very soon into my captivity that the young boys … that were taking away my freedom and abusing me really are the victims of war themselves. When they’ve never known any other way, how can we expect them to act differently?”

Lindhout was snatched off the side of the road along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan in 2008 while working as a freelance journalist.

She was freed last November after both families teamed up to hire a hostage negotiation group.

Lindhout said education is a tool to create sustainable change in Somalia.

“If the boys that had me, if their mothers had been educated women who taught them something about tolerance and peace and the world, who knows where they would be and what they would be doing, but I doubt they would be doing what they’re doing now.”

Lindhout said she feels a kinship with the women who live there.

“I feel like I will feel completely free when my sisters in Somalia are no longer suffering.”

Source: CBC

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