The tourist who was kidnapped in Uganda appeared to offer compassion for her captors, saying they “protected” her and treated her well.
Kimberly Endicott was following her dream of touring a wildlife park in Uganda when she and her guide were kidnapped and a ransom was demanded. An unknown sum appears to have been paid for her safe return, and Endicott has now given her first interview following her ordeal. She told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King in an interview that she tried to connect with her captors after seeing how beautiful the night sky was in Africa.
"It's nothing like I've ever seen before. And that was when I became very aware of humanizing myself to them,” she told King. “I said, 'Look at the sky.' I said, 'We don't have this at home.'"
She said at one point she laid down from exhaustion and when she woke up, she saw that her captors had made her a tent “out of tarps and a mosquito net.”
“I remember that was the moment where I thought, ‘Why are they taking such good care of me?’” she said.
She said she started talking to them just as she would anyone else and watched them drink water from a “hole in the ground” while providing her bottled water. She said she couldn’t help but feel compassion for them.
"'Cause that's their life. It's not really above living like an animal. That's their life. If I survive this, I have a life to go back to. That's their life," Endicott told CBS. "That does not condone what they did. Not even close."
She also said the men let her call her daughter once, and thought at one point the U.S. government was doing nothing to help her. She said a woman from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority met her captors and provided payment, then escorted her back to safety.
"When we pulled into Ishasha Camp I realized just what my government did for me. And I was overcome with shame for thinking they didn't do anything. And gratitude like I've never felt in my life," Endicott said.
Endicott called her captors her “protectors,” and pointed out how things could have been worse for her.
"They could've sold me to a different group. When I went out in the open they had guns that also protected me. It could've been so much worse than it was," she told CBS.
Still, she said she was experiencing trauma from the ordeal.
"Certain things will trigger me. We went for a walk out at a nature area and it just triggered me like nobody's business. The sound of our feet on the ground, pushing bushes out of my way – and so I'm getting in touch with that there's gonna be that probably for a while," Endicott said.
She also believes her kidnapping is not the norm in Uganda, and that tourism should not decline.
"That was the other thing. That feeling of what this is gonna do to that country that is run by their people and those are immensely friendly, accommodating people. And everyone in hospitality after you would have a conversation, the last thing they said to you was, 'please tell all of your friends to come,'" she said.