The sky was a cold blue the evening of June 8th. There was not a hint of warmth, as the wind kicked up, causing dust and dried leaves to blow around the parking lot of Christ Church Cathedral, in downtown Ottawa. The weather, mirroring the feelings of so many who were coming out, for what we all knew would be an emotional evening.
Alison Azer, the BC mom, whose four children were kidnapped by her estranged husband was in Ottawa. So too, Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian journalist who survived 460 days in unimaginable hardship in Somalia starting in 2008. The brutality of the ordeal is told in her award winning book, A HOUSE IN THE SKY.
Lindhout is supporting Alison in her campaign to bring her children home to Canada.
Her appearance and talk in the Great Hall, would be her fourth with Alison.
I had the honour of acting as emcee. I interviewed Alison about how her children ended up in war torn Iraq with their father. Alison and Saren Azer, a prominent doctor, had separated after he became violent. Alison's appeals to police and judges that her husband was threatening to leave the country with the children fell on deaf ears. He eventually did exactly what he said he would do. No border could stop him. Alison has not seen her four children since August last year. She's had no calls, no word on how or where her children are living. The cost of lawyers, travelling to Iraq to try to find the children and appealing to our government to intervene is costly.
Events like the one in Ottawa are helping raise awareness and much needed funds.
Amanda Lindhout's support of Alison has raised the profile on the ongoing campaign, being waged by a broken hearted mother. Amanda is also donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of her book A HOUSE IN THE SKY to #bringthechildrenhome. Those who attended in Ottawa asked to sign petitions to get the Prime Minister to call the President of Iraq.
Amanda spoke for an hour about the horror of being kidnapped and abused. It was at times, horrific to hear, yet we were all awed by what saw her through.
Because I was working and because camera were not permitted, I was only able to interview people following the event. I think you will get a sense of how we all reacted to Alison's and Amanda's nightmares. Hopefully you will learn more about Alison Azer and join the effort to re-unite her with her children.
You can help Alison Azer by going to
www.FindAzerKidsNow.com Sign the petition.
Stay informed and donate if you can.