An American tourist who was kidnapped in Uganda and held captive for nearly five days has spoken out for the first time on her time in captivity.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King, Kimberly Endicott recounted how together with her guide JP Mirenge Remezo and their kidnappers spent days walking.
They walked across the Ugandan border to the more unstable Democratic Republic of Congo.
“And then the sun is setting and we keep walking and it gets to complete, like, pitch darkness,” she recalled.
“So at one point we stopped. And I look up in the sky and I see the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen in my life.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. And that was when I became very aware of humanizing myself to them … I said, ‘Look at the sky.’ I said, ‘We don’t have this at home.'”
She even pointed out the Milky Way to the men. She said it became her “mission” to be human with them so that not only would they see her humanity but it would help her see theirs, too.
“I remember laying down on the ground and I remember hearing JP say, ‘Oh my God,’ at my exhaustion. I don’t know how long I laid there,” Endicott said.
“At one point I’m asked to get up. And I turn and look and they’ve made a tent for me out of tarps and a mosquito net, which, I remember that was the moment where I thought, ‘Why are they taking such good care of me?'”
Endicott said a “relationship” of sorts began with the young men in the camp.
“I just start talking to them like I’m talking to you,” Endicott told King. “But all the while I’m watching these young men drink water, not from the river, but from a hole in the ground. But they have bottled water for me.”
While a search effort was underway, the kidnappers began making calls to the tour company demanding a ransom and giving JP and Kimberly the phone at points in the negotiations.
“I was able to call my daughter once. They let me do that … My daughter’s besides herself,” she said. “Her mother’s been kidnapped. But I’m not beside myself. I’m saying, ‘Okay we can’t, like, we can’t do this now. Let’s get it together. But tell everybody what’s happening. Tell everyone what’s happening. Because I don’t know what’s being done.”
Following five days of negotiations, a ransom was finally paid but it has never been clear where the money came from or how much it was. Once they were free, it was reported across the world.
According to Endicott, it was a woman from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority who met her captors to hand over the money. After that, the same woman and a man with a motorcycle then took the two freed captives to safety.