Arjan Erkel received an ‘Our Heroes Award’ presented by Ricky Martin

On 12th  November Arjan Erkel received an ‘Our Heroes Award’ for his work at Free a Girl from the Global Gift Foundation USA. The award was presented to him by Ricky Martin during the Global Gift Gala in Mexico. In 2002 Arjan Erkel was kidnapped by rebels during his work at Artsen Zonder Grenzen(Médecins Sans Frontiéres) in the Republic of Dagestan. For 607 days he was held hostage in a dark room of 1,5 by 2 meters. Following his rescue he founded the organisation Free a Girl together with Evelien Hölsken, Yolanthe Sneijder Cabau and Roelof van Laar.

The Gala was organised by Global Gift Foundation USA. Various international personalities including  Eva Longoria and representatives of the American and Mexican business world came together for one collective objective: human rights and a better world. Free a Girl contributes to this cause through our work rescuing girls from forced prostitution and arresting the offenders.
Therefore, the co-founders of Free a Girl, Evelien Hölsken and Arjan Erkel, were invited to the Gala, andArjan Erkel received the “Our Heroes Award”.
Besides Arjan Erkel, Laura Pausini received the ‘Global Gift Humanitarian Award’ and Mr. Luis Enrique the ‘Global Gift Excellence Award’. The host of the evening was Amaur Nolasco, known for his role on the television show, Prison Break.


Evelien Hölsken:  “I am very proud of Arjan. He never behaved like a victim and always fought for his life and now for the lives of girls who are trapped in brothels. Receiving this international recognition is a culmination of our work. We are a big fan of Ricky Martin and his foundation who is dedicated to eliminating child trafficking. The next years Free a Girl will organise various events together with the Global Gift Foundation USA, Ricky Martin Foundation and the Eva Longoria Foundation”


Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin and their foundations joined together for the event. The Eva Longoria Foundation is an organisation that provides educational and entrepreneurship opportunities and  for underprivileged women. The Ricky Martin Foundation is an organisation that raises awareness on human trafficking and protects the rights of children and youth. The Global Gift Foundation  strives to create a positive impact on the well-being, health and social integration of children, women and families in need.


From hostage to rescuer: Arjen Erkel fights against child prostitution together with Free a Girl in countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Free a Girl investigates and rescues young girls that are being sexual exploited. More than 3.750 girls have been freed. Even after their rescue Free a Girl remains committed to the girls. The organisation supports shelter, medical care, education, vocational training and reintegration of the victims. Courage, guts and perseverance characterise the organisation. Arjan Erkel came to action after his liberation. Not talking but doing, and therefore, he gets an award: ‘Our Heroes Award’ from the Global Gift Foundation USA.