Happy Sunday! I started my day with my usual Sunday workout. Up at 5am and out the door to the gym. I definitely left the gym feeling refreshed. Every Sunday I leave the gym looking forward to the gorgeous view right outside the door. I took a moment to soak it in and snap a few pictures, and then I hopped in my car. My word, it’s ridiculously cold here. I’m from Michigan, so I know cold, but it’s typically around 40 degrees here in the wintertime, so this frigid cold is very unwelcome! The snow does make for beautiful pictures though.
I waited for S to walk home from the gym and we had our typical Sunday breakfast of eggs and bagels with hot coffee. Delightful! After breakfast, I made some homemade dulce de leche to use in S’s homemade caramel coffee creamer, and then I sat down to finish my book—A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindout and Sara Corbett.
I put this book on hold at the library back in the summer after seeing Amanda Lindhout on 20/20 (I think). I first got the book from the library around Thanksgiving but was only able to read 89 pages before having to return it. Ugh, that was frustrating. I immediately put it back on hold and picked it up again at the library last week. Obviously, it was a hard book to put down because I’ve already finished it.
If you’re not familiar with this story, let me fill you in. Back in 2008, Amanda Lindhout was trying to make it as a journalist. She and her photographer friend, Nigel, traveled together to Somalia hoping to land a story. On their fourth day in Somalia, they were kidnapped and held captive for 15 months…460 days.
I caught just a brief piece of her story on 20/20, and I was taken. I had to read this book. Now that I’ve finished the book, I have to go back and watch 20/20 again. I need to see her tell her story. I have no idea how she managed to survive. What she endured is unimaginable. This book opened my eyes to a cruel, cruel world that I don’t want to acknowledge and wished didn’t exist.
The abuse she suffered at the hands of her captors is hard to even imagine, let alone put into words. She was raped repeatedly and by numerous men. My stomach is absolutely sick just thinking about it. I hate violence, I hate abuse. The fact that these men found it okay to do this to a person, a woman, makes my mind do somersaults.
The title of this book, A House in the Sky, comes from the fact Amanda had to take herself to a different world in her mind in order to survive what she endured. She thought of her family, her friends, and silently spoke encouraging words to herself. It takes a very strong person with a very strong mind to be able to do something like that. She silently talked herself into surviving.
This passage from the book really stuck with me (page 293). This is the world we live in.
“With this breath, I choose peace. With this breathe, I choose freedom. It didn’t matter whether it was the tenth time or the thousandth time; enduring their cruelties never became easier. It always had the same effect, consuming me, putting me in a knotted and unhopeful rage. I’d spent my life believing that people were, at heart, kind and good. This was what the world had shown me. But I couldn’t find anything good about these boys, about any of my captors. If humans could be this monstrous, maybe I’d had everything wrong. If this was the world, I didn’t want to live in it. That was the scariest and most disabling thought of all.”
Even today, it seems she still manages to see the good in the world. She is part of the good in the world. Six months after being released from Somalia, she started the Global Enrichment Foundation (GEF). She partners with other organizations to help bring food, education, and other supports to Somalia. Her organization funds a school and a community library at a camp in Somalia. GEF also funds a school for Somali women refugees living in Kenya. The school is named Rajo, the Somali word for hope.
While reading this book, I often found myself turning to the picture of Amanda in the back of the book. I thought to myself “this woman smiling back at me with a beautiful smile managed to survive something excruciatingly awful and still sees the good in the world”. I admire her courage, her strength, and her ability to have hope for a better tomorrow—not just for herself, but for others as well.