No Lindhout fundraisers planned

Public fundraisers are not being planned at this time to support the families of a Central Alberta woman and an Australian man kidnapped for 15 months, says a Calgary businessman.

Public fundraisers are not being planned at this time to support the families of a Central Alberta woman and an Australian man kidnapped for 15 months, says a Calgary businessman.

Michael Going, president of the Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery chain, said he will wait for further direction from Amanda Lindhout’s family. But he expects additional fundraising will be needed.

“The family has depleted their resources and Amanda will need some rehabilitation as well, which will cost some money.”

Neither of Lindout’s parents, Jon Lindhout of Sylvan Lake, and Lorinda Stewart of British Columbia, had worked for the past year.

Lindhout, 28, and Brennan, 38, were released on Nov. 25 after being held captive since Aug. 23, 2008. They had been in the war-torn country only a few days when they were ambushed by Somalian gunmen while on their way to interview displaced Somalis.

Families of the pair secured their release with a large ransom. CBC News reported it as US$600,000.

Donations are welcome through the Amanda Lindhout Trust Fund, which was launched the end of October through the Bank of Montreal.

The Canadian government doesn’t pay ransoms. As a result, the families of both began holding unpublicized silent auctions and other events.

Going and Steve Allan, another businessman in Calgary, are trustees of the trust fund to ensure it’s properly managed. The total amount collected so far wasn’t divulged by Going.

Donations have ranged from $5 to “very significant ones,” he said.

He said the biggest use of the funds will go towards paying the U.K-based security firm that negotiated the successful handover of Lindhout and Brennan.

After attending an Oct. 8 fundraiser in Calgary where he sat next to Lindhout’s two brothers and mother, Going said he felt compelled to do something. His own brother and nephew were taken prisoner in Serbia 10 years ago, and fortunately, they were released much sooner than Lindhout.

“I had some sense of the trauma — it has far-reaching impact,” Going said.

As of Thursday, it’s believed that Lindhout and Brennan are still in Kenya where they are recuperating. They were released from hospital earlier this week.

Going said the trust fund will help both families initially since they’ve pooled resources. The Brennan family raised money and then Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith stepped in to make up any differences required, Going said.

He hasn’t been in touch with the Lindhout family since Amanda’s release.

There’s no word if Lindhout will return soon to Sylvan Lake.

“There are no updates as to when Amanda is planning to return or where she might settle when she does,” said family spokeswoman Sarah Geddes on Thursday. “Wherever she does decide to reside will remain private to allow her the time she needs to readjust.”

Daniel Mol, an Edmonton lawyer who had been hired to represent the Lindhout family for about six months this year, declined comment on Thursday.

“It is for Ms. Lindhout and her family to decide when and how to tell their story,” Mol said in an email.

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