Surviving Hell on Earth

He said he's finally found peace in "just being alive." "I'm not saying that I don't feel sad or I don't feel certain things, but I just appreciate my life, for whatever it is."

Twenty years after her ordeal, Ortiz' pain is still on the surface, but she has founded Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, TAASC, in Washington, D.C., and works to help others. She's also written an account of her experience called "The Blindfold's Eye: My Journey From Torture to Truth."

"All I can think of is my experience of torture and what it did to me," she said. "No one heals from torture. We learn how to live with our experience. We learn not to let our experience of torture define who we are, or the path that we will walk."

'Hope Rather Than Despair'

Wiesel could not speak of his experience for 10 years, but the need to justify his own survival moved him to put his emotions on paper.

"I know that there are no words to describe what I went through," he said. "And yet I use words to bring hope rather than despair."

Those words became the haunting classic "Night," which has sold more than 6 million copies in the United States alone, and is available in 30 languages.

Wiesel's years in hell compelled him to a life of activism: He has devoted his life to the fight against genocide around the world. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is still an icon in the campaign for tolerance.

Wiesel said that the ultimate reward for the life he has lived is that people will be able to understand that "man is capable of inflicting the worst humiliation on the other," and "it is possible to humiliate a person to the point that that person would rather be dead."

But he also believes that evil can be fought and defeated. "Of course it can," he said. "It can be fought, because it must be fought."

And like Beah and Ortiz, Wiesel firmly believes that "life is to be celebrated."

The remarkable thing about Beah, Sister Ortiz and Wiesel is that their healing came from investing more faith in humanity. When asked if there was a way to keep out of hell, Wiesel made reference to Jean Paul Sartre's play "No Exit."

"It's by seeing in the other not the source of evil, but a companion, a possible friend. Surely an ally, and not a stranger," he said.

Beah admitted there could be some people who are inherently evil, but said, "I do believe in the basic goodness of every human being."

And despite Sister Ortiz' suffering, she knows "goodness will conquer evil. That's what keeps me alive. If I don't have that belief, I'm dead."

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