Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight want to thank everyone who has donated to a relief fund set up for their benefit after having been rescued from ten years in captivity in a Cleveland house. They want to thank everyone for the prayers being said on their behalf. And they want to thank everyone in advance for respecting their privacy as they try to pick up the threads of normal lives after their horrific ordeal at the hands of their tormentor, Ariel Castro, who now faces 329 counts relating to his kidnapping, torture, and murder during their confinement.
In this video shot last week but released this morning, the three and a few family members talk a little about how they are transitioning to regular lives again, and express gratitude for all of the support they’ve been given:
Specifically, the three women express their gratitude to everyone who has donated to the Cleveland Courage Fund, set up to aid their transition to non-captive life, and for the moral support — and privacy — they’ve received since their rescue. So far, the Courage Fund has received $1.05 million from 9,200 donors.
The women all smile, showing strength and fragility, sometimes at the same time. “First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family, my friends,” says Berry, 27. “I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely.”
DeJesus, 23, appears with her parents, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz. She speaks the least of the three, thanking Courage Fund donors for their support. Her father echoes that theme, but Ruiz literally thanks everyone, with special mention for her neighbors. “Parents in general that do have a loved one missing, please do me one big favor,” she says. “Count on your neighbors.”
The longest statement is from Knight, 32, who talks about how her faith helped her survive and move forward. “I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my held high and my feet firmly on the ground,” she says, concluding: “Thank you for all of your prayers. I’m looking forward to my brand-new life.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has more:
“I don’t want to be consumed by hatred,” Knight says in the video. “With that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know God is in control. God has a plan for all of us. The plan that he gave me is to help others who have been in the same situation I have been in.” …
“Amanda, Gina and Michelle wanted to say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed,” said Kathy Joseph, the attorney for Knight. “People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages. ”
James Wooley, an attorney for Berry and DeJesus, said the women “still have a strong desire for privacy.” He said the women do not wish to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else.
Let’s hope that wish gets respected by all involved, and let the women tell their stories on their own terms — or not at all. If you are interested in donating to the Cleveland Courage Fund on their behalf, you can start here at this link.