In the year and a half since the release of her best-selling memoir A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout’s life has changed drastically once again.
The book, which recounts Lindhout’s 15 and a half months of captivity in Somalia between 2008 and 2009, spent 12 straight weeks as the number one book in Canada following its paperback release last fall. As of last week, it was still on the bestsellers list at number 10.
While its release and subsequent success have increased Lindhout’s already-frenetic workload, Lindhout relishes the opportunity it’s given her to share her story of forgiveness with audiences all around the world.
“It’s just given me a platform that I feel very fortunate to have,” she said. “It’s literally, over the last year and a half, brought me all over the world, and in 2015, the list of countries that I’m going to to speak on stages is really exciting.”
An upcoming speaking tour will see Lindhout make stops in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Oman, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and South Africa. And that’s only until mid-April.
After that, she’ll continue to very much be a part of the book’s impending transition to the big screen: a screenplay adaptation is currently being worked on by Lindhout’s A House in the Sky co-author and New York Times Magazine contributing writer Sara Corbett.
Talk right now suggests production will begin later this year, creating a feeling for Lindhout she can only describe as “surreal”.
“Having a Hollywood movie made of your life … I think it will be difficult, of course,” she said. “It’s depicting not only fun times of my life travelling around the world, but also the darkest moments of my life, and no doubt that will be difficult to watch as they film, and to watch once it’s finished.”
Nonetheless, she’s encouraged to know that the film, like the book has, will inspire people all around the world.
“The story is ultimately really inspiring to people and it touches people,” she said. “It puts things into perspective, and it reminds them of the strength of the human spirit.
“In a film form, it will reach far more people than a book ever will, and that’s important.”
Lindhout added she holds a sense of responsibility in sharing the message of what she learned during her captivity in Somalia; working with the talented group of people that are currently on board with the film, she feels, will allow her to do just that, and in a dignified and tasteful manner.
Lindhout shared that same message with a sold-out audience in Sylvan Lake last year in her first — and, to date, her only — hometown speaking event. The night, she said, was both highly emotional and “really special”.
“For me to stand in front of that community which supported me and my family during those 15 and a half months in captivity, and for them to just hear from my own mouth the story of what happened and what I learned, and to see too that I’m OK — I’m better than OK; I’m better than I’ve ever been — that was meaningful,” she said.
Though her return to Sylvan Lake was something of a rarity for Lindhout, she said she always gets a “feeling of homecoming” when she does get back to town.
And she’ll be forever grateful for all the Sylvan Lake community did for both her and her two dads — who still live in Sylvan Lake — during her time in captivity.
“The support from the community helped my family through that period more than the community probably understands,” she said. “To have had that outreach from the community at that crisis point in our lives just touched all of us so much.
“(Sylvan Lake) is a very familiar, comfortable, safe place for me. I love it when I do go home.”
On top of her book, film and speaking obligations, Lindhout also occupies her time working with the Global Enrichment Foundation — the humanitarian organization she founded in 2010 aimed at empowering underprivileged Somali women and girls.
The foundation is very much continuing to flourish, and its continued growth, for Lindhout, remains a priority.
“The Somali Women’s Scholarship Program is producing, and has produced, some really amazing university graduates of young women who want to create change in Somalia,” she said. “We’re really actively trying to get people to go on our website (globalenrichmentfoundation.ca) and look at how they can sponsor a scholar, and how they can sponsor one young woman’s university education in a country where so few women have the opportunity.”
Despite her hectic schedule, Lindhout occasionally manages to find time for herself, and recently returned from a two-week personal vacation in Myanmar. Living with post-traumatic stress disorder, she knows her recovery will likely be a lifelong process, but she’s learned well how to manage and live with it.
That’s left her in a better place than she’s perhaps ever been.
“I feel in many ways stronger than I ever have,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of work with a talented psychologist over the last couple of years, and we’ve just got me into a really good place where I understand the condition that I have … and the symptoms. Because I have an education about it, I can manage it, and it doesn’t affect my life in the way that it used to.
“I just feel very peaceful these days.”
Lindhout said she often feels she’s living a dream as she travels the world spreading her message of forgiveness and overcoming adversity. And she takes none of it for granted.
“I feel very privileged to have it, and I take it really seriously,” she said. “It just feels like I’m on the path that was destined for me, and I got here through everything that I went through.
“Looking back on all of it and the way that it’s all unfolded, and the gifts and blessings that have come out of it, I wouldn’t change any of it. None of it.”