I have the true honour to speak with Arjan Erkel today. Born in the Netherlands, he studied Cultural Anthropology to then join Doctors Without Borders as humanitarian aid worker in conflict areas. He first worked in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Sierra Leone and then Russia, where his life dramatically changed. In 2002 he was kidnapped by Islamic rebels in Dagestan and kept hostage for almost 2 years. Since then – as an author, motivational speaker, coach and entrepreneur – Arjan inspired thousands of people with his message about freedom and taking ownership of one’s own life. Arjan is also the Co-Founder of ‘Free a Girl’. A foundation that is dedicated to freeing young girls from forced prostitution. Since 2008 ‘Free a Girl’ has freed more than 4,750 girls globally!
We talk about his abduction, an extremely confusing period, in which he often feared for his life, e.g. when they started digging holes in the ground, drove him around in car trunks and left him alone for days without food or water. For 607 days he was locked up in dark cellars, heavily secured bedrooms and finally 15 months in a dark underground hutch of 1.5x2m with only the company of insects and mice not seeing any faces during all this time. He was thrown back and forth mentally between hope and despair. Next to losing his freedom, he also had to depend on others to get him out. In the worst moments he felt not only lonely but also forgotten.
In our conversation he shares:
– How he kept control and his autonomy & free choice, even though he was incarcerated in a 2×1.5m dark underground hutch for 15 months
– How he stood up for himself during life threatening situations and built respect
– How you can connect and built relationships with anyone, even with your kidnapper
– How he dealt with the insecurity of not knowing if he will survive, be forgotten or killed
– How he battled against loneliness and lack of confidence, security and comfort
– Why being authentic and vulnerable is powerful
– How to get new perspectives on the possibilities you have in your life, your own responsibility in it and how you can create a new reality
– Why he co-founded Free a Girl to safe girls from child prostitution
– How do you increase your freedom within imposed frameworks
About Arjan Erkel:
Arjan’s new book: www.heldhostagebook.com
Free a Girl: www.freeagirl.nl
His Ultimatum Video: https://youtu.be/PWHCw8V5c6U
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