As a former hostage who was kidnapped for almost 4 years in Iran, I have experienced first hand, the pain, suffering and betrayal that comes with it, but have also known the value of unwavering compassion and support, as well as the real meaning of hope, strength and freedom.
I pray that time will dull the pain of the memories that this tragic incident brings back; this nightmare that I wouldn’t wish even on my enemies. I spent 18 months blindfolded, and had several out of body experiences in the weeks that followed my kidnapping. I suffered endless cycles of hunger strikes to protest the many injustices I was put through. My only crime was accepting an official invitation from the Vice President of Iran to attend and speak at a conference with the intention of helping the community, women and youth to have a better and more prosperous future.
My kidnapping changed my life forever. During that period, I wished, as many who face this most impossible suffering probably do, that my life would just end to relieve me of this intolerable torment.
But as fate would have it, and in answer to the prayers and efforts of many, my long and very traumatic journey in Evin prison finally ended and I was released. It was then that I instinctively knew that I couldn’t stand idly by while others went through the same ordeal. I had to help in whatever way I could.
Today, with many former hostages and good people who are helping, we have established Hostage Aid Worldwide (HAW), a non profit organization to assist and fight for hostages all around the world and support their families during their ordeal. This effort will be in full cooperation with other NGOs working to help hostages.
By working together we will do our best to ensure that the hostage taking business model stops and will clearly be condemned by the United Nations and the world, and hostages will not end up being forgotten by their governments.
I want to thank all the former hostages who decided to join HAW. I am grateful and humbled to be part of this great group of people united in having survived through one of humanity’s great injustices. We welcome you to join HAW and support our efforts to end hostage taking once and for all.