Nigel Brennan on Moore Park Beach, one year after his release.
Nigel Brennan on Moore Park Beach, one year after his release.

Bundaberg helps heal Nigel's scars

NIGEL Brennan has barely stopped moving in the year since he was released from 15 months of hell in Somalia.

But today, the former NewsMail photographer will pause for a moment to mark the anniversary of his release and thank those who won him his freedom.

“We will speak with Bob Brown and Dick Smith (who donated money to help pay the ransom), call my aunts and relatives, and talk to Amanda (Lindhout, a fellow captive),” he said.

“My family and I just want to thank people again for giving me my freedom.”

Mr Brennan said although he expected to continue seeing a psychologist for the next year at least, he had come a long way since his dark days as a prisoner.

He said the first thing on his mind every morning was not the torture he suffered while being held captive, but whether the surf was up at Moore Park Beach.

“I get up every morning and go for a swim, or have a run,” he said.

He recently spent a week in Bangkok to have a break in his hectic schedule, as he juggles life between Bundaberg and Sydney.

“I’ve been working with a consultancy firm in Sydney, training journalists how to cope in hostile environments such as being held hostage,” Mr Brennan said.

“I’ve also been doing some public speaking with Amnesty International about refugees in Australia.”

Despite his ordeal, he holds no animosity towards the Somali people and is still passionate about telling their stories.

“I’m working on an exhibition (to be released in 2012) where I will photograph refugees from the Somali community in Brisbane, and record interviews with them,” he said.

“The general public just doesn’t understand what these people have been through.”

He is also preparing to tell his own story, and has spent months hunched over a laptop computer working on his memoirs.

“In some respects, writing has been cathartic. In others, it’s been difficult,” he said. “It’s amazing how vivid my memories are.”

But while he acknowledges that his time as a hostage has changed him for life, he said he did not dwell on his experience.

“I was the one who chose to go to Somalia. I lost 15 months of my life, so curling up in a ball and saying ‘poor me’ isn’t really an option,” he said.

“I want to make the best of it. Life’s good at the moment.”

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