Our story on the show is about a crusade against corruption, bribes and payments that ended with time in an African prison. But, that is just an outcome of a story that starts with early trauma, fear, anger and addiction.
You are in for a conversation about love and compassion and being a better parent.
Aaron Young is an Australian, born to a woman who was an addict and ill-equipped for motherhood. She was absent for much of his youth, and he was the parent and protector of his younger sister. Life was about survival and living in fear for young Aaron.
What started out as being fearful turned to anger as he got older. By his mid-teens, he was rejected by the services and having given up on life he found brotherhood in the gang scene turning to drugs, violence, and street crime.
That got extreme, and after three years he had an awakening, he moved on to find a new addiction, in his words, difficult relationships with women. He was attracted to women with history as a path to find healing for his mother.
In 2004 He Left Australia few years is travelling in the middle east and Asia. He met another inappropriate woman and followed her to Zimbabwe in Africa. And that was where the big adventure began. It was the opportunity for Aaron to express his passion and leave a mark on the world.
It was his habit to say yes to every opportunity. He discovered a natural talent to tune in to animal behaviour, working with wild elephants and lions. His specialism was animal conflict zones. How do you convince a 10-tonne bull elephant to move on?
Sadly he witnessed lots of corruption in the conservation industry and began calling it out. It made him politically unpopular. Often thwarted he did what he could for the animals, and stayed around the conservation industry for a while. But now, with a young family, he was looking for less travel and a better income.
The Corruption Crusader
Farming looked interesting, it was a permanent location and was better paid than conservation. Arron secured a managing role on a chicken farm and discovered yet more corruption; the business was losing over $2million/ year.
He became a corruption crusader, he want to show that it was possible to make the farm work, and he was good; he turned a $250,000 profit in just 60 days. Just by stopping the bribes and payments.
Yet again, he was ruffling feathers, and this time, the numbers were bigger, and the stakes were higher. The fighter in Arron would not let it go, and he chose to make a stand; we are talking death threats and intimidation as armed men turned up on the farm.
When corruption is that deep and systemic, the system fights for its survival, Aaron was targeted with physical violence and eventually arrested on a range of trumped-up charges.
After an arrest and a beating, he found himself as the only white guy in an African prison, a 6m by 15m cell that you share with 75 other guys.
When we started this conversation, I was under the impression we were talking ten years ago; not so this is recent. Arron only left Zimbarbwa in January 2020. It is a fascinating insight into the workings and troubles of Zimbabwe and other African countries.
Aarons’ refusal to back down, came at huge personal cost, his relationship and his children.
“I went from being a Dad to being a prisoner to being forcibly deported at gunpoint back to Australia ”
The rest of our conversation is about that journey his learning from the experience and his new mission. Which is to help people define what means to be a better man or woman and to create a better future for children and families.
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