Sheila Fedrick had boarded many flights during her 10-year career as a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. However, one particular flight from Seattle to San Francisco is a flight she will never forget. There were two passengers aboard that flight that got her attention. One was an older gentleman who was well dressed, and a young girl who looked to be about 14-15 years of age and unkempt in appearance.
Fedrick thought the two could not be more opposite, and she was right. She could have just as easily looked the other way, and pretended not to notice, but she could not. Her instincts told her something was wrong so she chose to take action. Fedrick had been trained to spot girls who looked as if they could be victims of human trafficking through a program called Airline Ambassadors International (AAI). They have developed a training specifically for airline personnel in order to help stop trafficking.
Fedrick asked the girl if she needed to go to the bathroom. The girl got up and went and read the note Fedrick left for her asking her if everything was okay. The girl wrote on the back of the note, “I need help.” Fedrick responded by alerting the pilot about the situation while remaining calm and professional. The pilot alerted San Francisco police who were at the gate when the plane landed.
If you think we are no longer living in the days of slavery, think again. DoSomething.org and the U.S. State Department advises there are 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked as slaves internationally every single year. 80 percent of those people are female, and half of them are children. 80 percent of the trafficking involves forcing victims into sexual exploitation, including forcing them into sexual acts to help create pornography. The average cost of a human trafficking victim is just $90.
It is with organizations such as the AAI, as well as brave people like Fedrick willing to take action, who will make a difference.The National Human Trafficking Hotline offers tips and resources for anyone who has additional questions on this dangerous modern-day form of slavery. Together, we can do our part to end this madness.
What would you do if you came face to face with someone you believed could be a victim? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.