Photo taken by Mia Collis
Jessica Buchanan: teacher, author, humanitarian, speaker, mother, daughter, survivor.
In the summer of 2006, Jessica Buchanan followed her dream and left for Africa. She traveled through areas of South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, volunteering in different capacities, and then was fortunate enough to secure a student teaching position at an international school based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Rosslyn Academy. She was eventually offered a full-time teaching position and in 2009, she married Erik Landemalm, a native Swede she had met while working in Nairobi, who worked with strengthening judiciary and legislative institutions in East Africa. After a beautiful celebration, Jessica left her teaching position and relocated to Hargeisa, Somaliland to join her new husband and begin her next adventure. Jessica eventually took on the role as the Regional Education Adviser for the Danish Demining Group, the mine action unit of the Danish Refugee Council, and worked with issues related to Armed Violence Reduction and community safety in areas of Somaliland, Somalia, Uganda, and South Sudan.
On October 25, 2011, while on a routine field mission in Somalia, Jessica, along with a colleague, were abducted at gunpoint and held for ransom by a group of Somali land pirates for 93 days. Jessica was held outdoors in deplorable conditions, starved, and terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters. As her health steadily deteriorated and ransom negotiations dragged on, her captors grew increasingly impatient. Her liberation came on January 25, 2012, when the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six heroically parachuted into the desert and successfully rescued her, along with her colleague.
The ordeal is detailed through the perspective of Jessica, and her husband, Erik in their New York Times bestselling book, Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six.
Jessica and her husband have since relocated to the United States and now reside in the Washington DC area with their two children. Erik continues to work in the international development sector, and Jessica travels the country speaking about her experience as a hostage to a wide range of audiences. She is a board member for the non-profit organization, Hostage US, that seeks to support former hostages and their families. She also continues to serve as a dedicated Ambassador for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which works to support families of fallen SEALs.
In her spare time, Jessica will most likely be found outdoors, usually up in the mountains, hiking with her family. She is committed to teaching her children the necessity of being outside, the importance of remaining in awe of creation, and most significantly, how lucky she is to be free.