17 Jul 2018
Beloved Ina Melen – one of Airline Ambassadors stars passed away suddenly and will be dearly missed. Ina was a true Ambassador of Goodwill and a delight to everyone who met her. She promoted Airline Ambassadors in Boston and around the world. She brightened the lives of orphans in Colombia and volunteered regularly for our Children’s Medical Escort program. Anyone who knew Ina was touched by her enthusiasm, love for life, impeccable grooming and pride in being an American Airlines flight attendant.. We are dedicating our next mission to South Africa in her name – and bringing her spirit with us. Below is her obituary in the Boston Globe.
INA MELEN, Ina S. Of Newton, on July 15, 2018. Beloved wife of Ralph Melen. Devoted mother of Debra Fields and her husband Elwyn, Nathan Melen and his wife Shana. Loving grandmother of Matthew and Hannah Fields, and Daisy Melen. Dear sister of Fred Butt. Ina was very much a career woman. Before her marriage to Ralph, she was a stewardess with the former Northeast Airlines. With marriage forcing retirement from that position, she married Ralph, mothered two children and continued in the business field working for Polaroid in marketing, following which she became a promotional advocate for Estee Lauder. After guiding her children through college and with her continued interest in flying, Ina joined American Airlines as a flight attendant for 23 years, retiring in 2013. Ina loved fashion and relations with people, so those work connections certainly accommodated that passion. Family, friends and passion tell Ina’s life in its simplest sense.
Services at Temple Beth Shalom, 670 Highland Ave., on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 10 am. Interment at Congregation Shirat Hayam Cemetery of the North Shore, Temple Beth El Section, 506 Lowell St., Peabody, MA.
Memorial observance will be at the home of Debra and Elwyn Fields, Wednesday 3-8 pm and Thursday 2-4 & 7-9 pm.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Temple Beth Shalom, or Airline Ambassadors International,www.airlineamb.org.
10 Jul 2018
An empty seat by the aisle. See this Video
The confused look in the light-blue eyes of a young woman.
Imaginary clothes drawn with a red marking pen on the frail body of a three-year-old.
The slight shiver of the teenage girl in the boarding line at the gate.
Cupped hands upraised to the sky.
A bruise on a cheek.
They all tell a story.
A tale of anguish and pain, of endurance and hope in which every one of us can play a part.
All these stories are a cry for help, coming from people experiencing intolerable levels of hardship all over the world. Some of them are victims of starvation, war, and natural disasters. Others, of sex trafficking. We can lend them a helping hand unconditionally. We can help at least one of the millions of children who are hungry, cold, and have no access to clean water or education. We can learn about the indicators of human trafficking, recognize, and report them. We can match our unique interests and skills to human need. We can make a difference when we travel.
That’s what Nancy Rivard has been doing since 1986 when she founded the Airline Ambassadors. After her father suddenly passed away on Christmas Eve, she found out at only twenty-nine, that loving one another and being of service is what ultimately makes life worth living. It became the young flight attendant’s life purpose — and made her unstoppable.
Her contagious enthusiasm, courage, and dedication to making a positive impact in the world eventually won over other flight attendants, airport employees, some of the big players in the airline industry, the U.N., and people like you. For them, Nancy Rivard is more than the founder of a successful non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance to children worldwide and putting a stop to human trafficking. She is a trailblazer for the extraordinary impact ordinary people can make in the world by talking less, doing more and bringing love into action.
“Wings of Love” is the next chapter to be written in the Airline Ambassadors history. This memoir based on Nancy Rivard’s odyssey of self-discovery is meant to inspire and empower people from around the world. Men and women, young and older people alike can take a step forward towards their soul, find their life purpose and fulfill it — by being of service. Nancy opens up her heart and reveals the good and bad, the happy moments and heartbreaking challenges, the unexpected traps, and powerful lessons. At a time where the mass media portrays the world as a place of hatred and separation, “Wings of Love” makes a case for kindness, compassion, and generosity as inherent features of the human soul. How? By our inter-connectedness and power to change the world through caring for one another.
Yet, “Wings of Love” is more than just a life-changing book that will inspire you to embark on a profound search for meaning and ask yourself the essential question, “How can I serve?” The book’s earnings will give wings to more humanitarian missions and help the organization reach new territories with airline industry-specific training programs on human trafficking awareness.
For all this to happen, for us to release the book in 2018 and make a bigger and better positive impact in the world, we need your support. We need to raise funds to make “Wings of Love” an outstanding, high-quality book available in digital, print and audio formats, translate it in several languages and implement a global promotion campaign so that we build a tidal wave of goodwill on this planet.
Any contribution, even the smallest one, can help. We can do this together. Thank you for joining us in bringing love into action and “Wings of Love” on the bookshelves. THANK YOU!
Wings of Love Book Description
What is the path to happiness, true love, and fulfillment? For Nancy Rivard, the founder of the internationally acclaimed non-profit organization Airline Ambassadors and the 2017 recipient of Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, it was finding her life purpose. Falling in love with humanity and being of extraordinary service. The twenty-nine-year-old California native had already given up a soaring corporate career as VP of American Airlines to become a flight attendant and travel around the globe when a heart-wrenching event started her on a seven-year search for spiritual meaning.
Nancy had miraculous meetings with the great spiritual teachers Sathya Sai Baba and Babaji Francesco Atmananda as well as magical experiences such as a UFO encounter and her first visit to Medjugorje. She’d worked with some of the world’s brightest minds. These experiences eventually revealed the answer to her burning question. She found out that women were not victims, but powerful beings with a sacred mission to restore peace and harmony on our planet. She realized that her life purpose was to meet real need and bring love into action.
Armed with faith, passion, and courage, against all the odds and all alone, she endeavored to make a difference and influence the travel industry, the largest one in the world and help millions of people around the world. It was by following her heart and staying faithful to her calling that Nancy also found true love and her soul partner.
In this riveting memoir, Nancy Rivard takes you on a fantastic love adventure that spans several decades and continents, from the war-engulfed Bosnia of the 90s to the earthquake-devastated Haiti of the year 2010, passing through hurricane-stricken New Orleans and impoverished El Salvador. She portrays loneliness, sacrifice, betrayal, temptation, danger, and loss as opportunities that made her grow as a human being — from an idealistic (but lost) young woman into the global role model she is today. Nancy also shares one of the most beautiful love stories of the modern times, how it blossomed when she least expected it, and how it endured the test of time, hardships, and separation.
Nancy Rivard’s journey is your journey. It represents the essential cycle each of us must go through as we move towards self-actualization, expressing our authentic self, and remembering we are love. It will inspire you to follow the promptings of your heart, and ultimately ask yourself the essential question –
“How can I serve?”
17 Jun 2018
Brilliant New Video on Air Asia Airlines human trafficking awareness program! Airline Ambassadors gives them a #1 rating as the most committed airline in combating human slavery!
It was so exciting to help kick off the Air Asia Roadshow in August 2017 to the main four bases for Air Asia Airlines –
Air Asia also did an In Flight Magazine Article on our visit!
Airlines Denounce Trafficking and commit to Action at the 2018 General Meeting at IATA in Sydney, Australia. Bravo to UNODC Goodwill Ambassador – Mira Sorvino for her statement for the IATA General Meeting June 4, 2018!
We appreciate the support of Tim Colehan and IATA encouraging airlines to educate staff on Human Trafficking Awareness. Airline cabin crew and staff can be boots on the ground and boots in the air combating this horrific crime. See this link to IATA website
SYDNEY: Airlines are set to step up the fight against human trafficking, global industry body IATA said Monday (Jun 4) as it released guidelines on how crews can act as “eyes and ears” to identify and report suspected cases.
Human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal industry and the second-largest after the drug trade, according to the US State Department, and there is an increasing push for the aviation industry to take action.
Airlines speed up fight against human trafficking
Airlines want to speed up worldwide the fight against human trade. Indeed, there are already numerous initiatives of single groups, however, up to now a branch-wide beginning has been absent, said Tim Colehan of the international aviation federation (IATA) at the annual federation meeting on Monday in Sydney. The Austrian Airlines supports the decision like one says on APA inquiry.
New guidelines should help the board staff to recognize suspicion cases and to handle after the landing with the victims. The Austrian Airlines helps carry the decision as one said on APA inquiry. ‘ The flight attendants are in a unique position because they sometimes travel many hours together with the passengers ‘, explained Colehan. Therefore they could also discover the smallest signals and Auffälligkeiten. The beginning also intends the vote with airports and criminal proceedings authorities like customs officials and border officials.
Human trafficking is according to US foreign ministry the fastest growing criminal trade of the world and second largest generally after the drug trafficking. According to the office of the United Nations to the fight against drugs and crime fight (UNODC) it comes at 60 percent of human trade for crossing of international borders. Therefore, the pressure on the aviation industry grows.
Indeed, it adds according to Colehan no information about the magnitude of human trade in the aviation branch, however, new laws squeeze all over the world the airlines to train her flight crew especially. International working organization ILO assumes from the fact that nearly 25 million people live in modern slavery. The main routes of human trade run from Africa in the Middle East and south Europe and Western Europe as well as from South Asia in the Middle East, Eastern Asia and the Pacific region.
Airline Ambassadors has been lobbying the airline industry with the importance of their role in prevention. It is exciting to see the support of both government with the ICAO release of Circular 352 at the High Commission on Human Rights, and the support of IATA, the main business association for airlines.
31 May 2018
Despite the evening rain a great team came together to enjoy reconnecting with the leaders of our programs helping vulnerable children worldwide. New and veteran Airline Ambassadors members came together to get inspired by our vision and activities helping children worldwide.
Mrs Washington DC, Kavita Nanavati greeted guests, and pilot from Empire Air, Mitch Tucker flew in all the way from Honolulu for the event. Mission Leaders, Cheryl Robinson, (Philippines and S. Africa), Marie Rivard (Guatemala), Kate Jewell (Nepal) shared as well as Children’s Medical Escorts, Ruth Matranga, Tammy Meade and Teresa Garza, and Human Trafficking Awareness trainers Peggy Durfey and Sharon Robinson were in attendance too.
Alejandro Fernandez will chair our Committee for a Spring Gala so email him at let us know if you want to join our Committee! email@example.com.
30 May 2018
Fresno Yosemite International Airport sponsored a Human Trafficking Awareness Training on June 25, 2018, that was provided by AIRLINE AMBASSADORS training team: Andrea Hobart, Leslie Power, and survivor Alicia Kozakiewicz.
Representing Congressman Jim Costa, District Director Kathy Mahan shared enthusiasm for combating human trafficking in Fresno. Director of Aviation, Kevin Meikle, welcomed the group along with Vikkie Calderon.
The training was well received and there were approximately 60 attendees, including local government, representatives, airline and airport station management and personnel, TSA and local citizens.
Three news stations attended and here is the report from Desiree Lopez on TV KSEE24: Fresno Airport educates employees on how to identify human trafficking victims. KSEE 24 also reports for Telemundo 51. Here is the report in Spanish
Local NGO’s working on combating on were also represented and had the chance to share. Founder of MADE FOR THEM, Andrea Shabaglian, and Anti-Human Trafficking Case Manager, Evelyn Gonzalez with the ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION and the Central Valley Freedom Coalition as well as Mollie’s House and the Alicia Project were also highlighted.
MEDIA RELEASE – Fresno Yosemite International Airport to Host
Anti-trafficking Awareness for Airport Personnel and Partners
Fresno, CA – Fresno Yosemite International Airport in partnership with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), a network of airline employees leading the effort to take the issue of human trafficking to the travel industry, will conduct a training on Monday, June 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. in the airport terminal lobby conference room for airport and airline personnel on recognizing and reporting human trafficking. The session will offer industry-specific training designed to raise situational awareness by teaching the warning signals and methods of how to handle a suspected trafficking situation.
“Fresno Yosemite International Airport is pleased to collaborate with AAI on creating awareness to keep our community and the traveling public safe,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle. “The industry-specific training will provide our airport team with the support to recognize trafficking related situations and to be the voice for an individual who may be in a desperate situation.”
Featured speaker AAI Human Trafficking Program Director, Andrea Hobart will lead the training. Participants will also hear from Alicia Kozakeiwicz, who will share her personal survivor story and Leslie Power, the airline professional who proposed the training. Participants will include airport and airline personnel, concession team members, federal partners and nearby hoteliers.
The Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Central Valley Freedom Coalition, Mollie’s House and Made for Them will be on hand to share materials and services offered by their respective organizations.
“We applaud the initiative of Fresno Yosemite International Airport for highlighting this issue just after the formal release of the International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines and the International Air Transport Association also encouraging all airlines to raise awareness on the most important human rights issue of our times,” said AAI President Nancy Rivard.
The training is consistent with the Blue Lightning Initiative of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and supported by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport – Fresno Yosemite International Airport currently offers Valley passengers daily nonstop flights to Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Guadalajara and Morelia, Mexico on domestic and international carriers. Fresno Yosemite International Airport is a municipally owned entity operating as a self-supporting enterprise. No City of Fresno general funds are used to operate Fresno Yosemite International Airport or Fresno Chandler Executive Airport.
Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) – (AAI) is a U.S. based 501(c)3 non-government organization that is leading the effort to take the issue of human trafficking to the travel industry. It began with a group of flight attendants using their passes to assist children in need, and has expanded to members of all ages and professions. AAI leverages airlines to provide passenger and cargo space for medical and rescue personnel, as well as for food, medicine and humanitarian relief. AAI volunteers also escort children traveling abroad for donated medical procedures and educate on human trafficking awareness.
Like us on facebook.com/FresnoYosemiteInternational or follow us on Twitter @FresnoAirport and Instagram @iFlyFresno .# # #
AAI’s star trainer Donna Hubbard opened the International Aviation Transportation Association (IATA’s) conference on Cabin Safety in Bangkok in May as well as the conference in Geneva on at the High Commission on Human Rights with the formal release of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Circular 352 – Guidelines for airline companies for training of cabin crew on identifying and responding to trafficking in persons. ICAO sets international guidelines for airline companies globally and the launch was made with the full support of the High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCHR). See media stories: UN Agency Urges Mandatory Training; Aircraft cabin crew have new tools to stop human trafficking & Preventing human trafficking by empowering aircraft cabin crew
The conference was opened by Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO and Kate Gilmore (UNHCHR) prior to Donna riveting the crowd with her testimony on the impact on victims : From Tragedy to Triumph. including the story of Airline Ambassadors and her work as a human trafficking awareness trainer.
Other speakers were Laurent Sauveur on UNHCHR, Janine Von Thungen, with an inspiring interactive exhibit on Trafficking in Persons, Martin Maurino who coordinated the development of of the ICAO Guidelines for Cabin Crew, Julie Abraham of the US Department of Transportation on the Blue Lightning Initiative, Mikela Dontu, who shared inspiring results of training cabin crew at Sky Regional Airlines, Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants, who helped get training mandated for US flight crew, Tim Coleman of IATA (sharing that this issue will be emphasized again at the General Meeting of IATA in early June in Sydney). Closing remarks were made by Catalin Radu (ICAO) and Mona Rishmawi, OHCHR.
We had some fun and got to see a bit of Geneva too including Uptown Downtown the upscale shop for vintage designer brands of our colleague Gigi Gya. We did some research in the “red light” district and had a great dinner with friends.
24 May 2018
11 May 2018
See this short report by Skye Jannery-Barney who began a one month internship with Airline Ambassadors in May. She attended the two day conference in DC and will also be joining our training team in El Salvador and Guatemala. The first day of the conference AAI’s Nancy Rivard and Saber Rock attended, as well as Kavita Nanavati who represented AAI at the Open Mic event. Here is Skye’s report:
“The Airport Cooperative Research Program hosted the Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports Insight Event on Monday, May 7, 2018 through Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The conference brought together airport and sustainability practitioners from around the country and world to contribute their insights based on expertise and experience in both social and economic perspectives. Through active engagement and participation, the program included networking, keynote speakers, panel discussions, audience Q&A and breakout sessions.
We heard from Dr. Steve Nakara from the Port of Portland who spoke about social equity, including the importance of access, diversity, and leadership when making decisions, development initiatives, programs, projects, and partnerships. Nakara has a very international background and conveyed the necessity of fairness, especially in community engagement. The first set of panelists discussed the social qualities of sustainability. Greg Jones of United Airlines highlighted diversity and inclusion in his remarks about leadership. Marion Town, Director of Environment from the Vancouver International Airport spoke about the need for safe and secure expansion of airports. Like Airline Ambassadors International, she mentioned how training airport employees is important for governance in order to resolve issues and make decisions. Angie Fyfe, Executive Director USA at ICLEI discussed health based on location. This ties into how areas of poverty are at a greater risk of health issues: for example, life expectancy.
The next presenter, Ted Howard, President of The Democracy Collaborative spoke about the link between anchor institutions and the community. Resources are found in these institutions (Universities, airports, hospitals, etc.) By joining with anchor institutions, jobs and assets are created. The second set of panelists focused on the economic qualities of sustainability. Shannetta Griffin from the Columbus Regional discussed the continuous resource issue. For highest success, airports need to partner with other organizations. Cindy Nichol, Chief Financial Officer of the Port of Portland focused on the needs of the people. She spoke on catastrophe response, ingraining social equity programs, and how most airports are losing money. David Birtwistle, Board Member of Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce/Chief Executive Officer of Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, focused on the pressures of airports. He mentioned noise complaints and Uber/Lyft and rental car issues that take away from the quality of the airport experience. The panelists highlighted the need for a change of incentive structure from an economic viewpoint to a quality viewpoint.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Davina P. Dugana is the Senior Statistician at the Walk Free Foundation. Her address was about airports’ role in mitigating human trafficking. She used technology to involve the audience by having us text into a group using polleverywhere.com and send in words that come to mind when we think of human trafficking. Durgana spoke about forced marriage, especially the need to educate and bring awareness to people about their rights in order to understand and prevent these situations that cultural barriers may bring. She highlighted the importance of disincentivizing the profits of human trafficking by forcing the process to be more costly. We understand that airports are a hotspot for trafficking, but Durgana also noted how subcontractors are high at risk and also highlighted Airline Ambassadors as a success story.
During the second day of the conference, there were breakout discussions for ways to overcome the issues airports are facing. The group of Steve Mayers, Atlanta Airport Director, talked about the need to bridge the employee gap between the higher and lower ranked employees. The Local and Global Social Impacts discussion group spoke on internships available in airports. These create jobs for younger people who, if trained, can be knowledgeable throughout their careers. This group also discussed human trafficking and questioned if there if training for everyone. They were concerned with how to finance the training sessions and how to provide it for as many people as possible. Ethan Nelson mentioned how there is money leftover that could have been spent on programs and projects like human trafficking trainings in the first place. Kurt Gering, Director of the San Diego County Airport spoke on the importance of engaging the outside community in the airports. This includes art, green life, biking and walking paths, and open restaurants. When looking into this, we wonder how this would affect trafficking. For instance, security could be less intense, making it easier to traffick.
The final keynote speaker was Stephen Van Beek, Director and Head of North American Aviation. He focused on the differences between public and private airports, along with the new form of airports emerging. With a change in politics comes a change in security measures and other forms of systems within airports. The public airports tend to be service focused, including social equity based. The private airports, however, are more money driven, resulting in a lack of quality. When having airport training sessions, we need to remember to alter them based on the type of airport.
In summary, the ACRP event led to many connections with airports around the country and world. Eagerness of the conference attendees for AAI’s trainings was prevalent. By connecting with innovative people at this event, it is clear that AAI will be able to branch out to airports and other anchor institutions globally.”
01 May 2018
AAI at Senate Briefing -HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM
FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM:
NEW CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
Monday, May 7, 2018
3:00 p.m., Russell Senate Office Building Room 485
Live Webcast: www.facebook.com/HelsinkiCommission
Traffickers move trafficking victims on airplanes, buses, trains, and taxis—frequently relocating to avoid detection by law enforcement and to chase big markets, like major sporting events and vacation destinations. Hotels, often unknowingly, sell rooms to traffickers for exploitation.
Over the last decade, transportation and hotel professionals have recognized the role they can play on the front lines of identifying potential trafficking victims. Many organizations work alongside NGOs and the Departments and Homeland Security and Transportation to ensure that their employees are ready to respond to, rather than look away from, victims in plain sight.
However, some companies have been slow to join the fight. Legislation pending in Congress will require hotels and airlines to train their employees to spot and report signs of trafficking before the companies can become eligible to win government contracts. More decentralized systems of travel and tourism—such as Airbnb and Uber—may need new frameworks to ensure that their systems do not become the preference of traffickers on the move.
The following expert panelists are scheduled to participate:
· Tracey Breeden, Director of Safety Communications, Uber
· Nancy Rivard, Founder and President of Airline Ambassadors
· Carol Smolenski, Executive Director, End Child Trafficking and Pornography (ECPAT), USA
· Craig Kalkut, Vice President of Government Affairs, American Hotel & Lodging Association
Additional panelists may be added.
Testimony to the Helsinki Commission May 7, 2018
Fighting Human Trafficking in Travel and Tourism – New Challenges and Solutions”
Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) is a non-profit organization made up of members in the airline industry, which has led advocacy on human trafficking awareness since correctly identifying trafficking on four flights in 2009. We developed the first “industry specific” training which has been provided to 6,000 frontline personnel at 70 airports in the U.S. and around the world. Our work will be highlighted at the release of the new ICAO Guidelines in Geneva and at the IATA Cabin Safety meeting in Bangkok this month.
Because the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 made it mandatory for U.S. airlines to train flight attendants, most airlines are utilizing the Blue Campaign’s excellent on line training materials. Delta is still out front – in 2018 they launched an enhanced training tailored for Delta’s 54,000 employees, initiated an apprentice program for trafficking survivors, hosted events to motivate employees, an event for Atlanta based CEO’s and launched a test with new airport signage. This year American Airlines joined Delta and signed the ECPAT Code of Conduct. JetBlue is also committed and was highlighted at the IATA General Meeting last May.
International airlines are jumping on board too. Air Asia and Air Emirates launched initiatives last year and AeroMexico and Copa have joined the international fight by joining the UNODC Blue Heart Campaign.
There are successes:
Airline Ambassadors provided training in Sacramento airport which is proactive for awareness. In February this year, Sacramento AA Agent, Denice Miracle, noticed two girls, aged 15 and 17 who were traveling on a one-way ticket to do some modeling for a man they had met on Instagram. They had told their parents they were spending the night at each other’s houses, Her alertness and critical thinking saved those two girls.
Congress can help by strengthening the laws to encourage airlines to provide training to all employee groups, (including agents, pilots and more). Funding should be increased so the Blue Campaign to provide live trainings to training staff of the 33 major airlines in the U.S. The on line trainings are very good, but many employees to not pay close attention and is often not even mentioned in annual recurrent trainings. Some employees still are not taking the issue seriously.
Here are three examples:
- Last March on a flight from Rome to Chicago all 8 flight attendants were sure that a 50 year old American man was trafficking a 7 year old Albanian girl, they reported it to the pilots (even pointing to the manual where the pilots should radio to alert the upcoming airport), but the pilots refused saying that they didn’t want to get the man in a lot of trouble. “This has never been mentioned in pilot training, and we are not going to take the chance.”
- Agents in Houston heard that we provided an airport training and said “When is someone going to train us? We see potential trafficking every day!”
- I visited airline operations and asked what action they would take if a pilot radioed in a suspected human trafficking cases. They answered “No action – human trafficking is not a threat to aircraft security.” They also need to be trained.
Funding should specify that Train the Trainers (for training staff) should include actual trafficking survivors, to make the issue real, motivating trainers to emphasize this during annual recurrent training.
Airports – also play a key role in awareness:
We helped Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Francisco Airports to implement a training video for all badged employees. Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis and Sacramento have also been proactive. The DHS Ad campaign is in most Customs areas and A21 signage is in Chicago and New York airports. 1000 “Tips” have been submitted through Airline Ambassadors Tip Line App that is given to our airport trainees. We are saving lives.
However, many airports have not been receptive to offers of training like Los Angeles and Miami. They have said live training is not needed, and there are no resources to support it.
But we know training IS needed. Donna Hubbard, noticed a woman crying outside the bathroom at MIA Airport. She stopped to talk – and the girl said that a man she had met at a bar the night before bought her a ticket on the flight to New York, but she didn’t want to go to New York….she wanted to go home to her mother. Donna contacted the airport police, who intimidated the girl until she said nothing was wrong. It was Donna, a human trafficking survivor herself, who helped intervene and did get the girl back to her mother.
The Human Trafficking Investigations and Trafficking Institute has one of the best trainings out there for law enforcement, but most airports or police departments are reluctant to invest their limited training funds in human trafficking awareness training because it is not mandatory at the state level. Officers continue to treat victims as suspects, not a victim centered approach. Training resources need to be increased for training of travel industry personnel and law enforcement, as coordination is critical to end modern day slavery.
Motivating the Private Sector
Although the private sector is critical in this fight, most airlines truly do not understand the importance of human trafficking awareness and hesitant to integrate new actions into their corporate cultures. They are nervous that vigilante flight attendants will make false accusations and cause a lawsuit and no real motivation to ensure proper training for employees, eliminate trafficking in the supply chain or adopt policies to provide job opportunities for victims. We sent a letter to the CEO’s of 24 airlines and hospitality companies to requesting their openness to hiring survivors of human trafficking – only the American Bus Association responded!
Support is needed to mobilize private sector partners. It was the Caux Roundtable Japan who encouraged All Nippon Airlines to host our presentation in Tokyo last month. If the U.S. joins the international UNODC Blue Heart Campaign, along with 18 other nations, with actress Mira Sorvino at the Goodwill Ambassador, it would encourage airlines, transportation and hospitality companies in the direction of social responsibility.
The critical infrastructure of our transportation system can no longer be used as a tool to implement human trafficking, or modern day slavery. This is also the fastest growing crime in the world. It is linked to drug trafficking, human smuggling, arms trafficking and terrorism, also a cabin safety issue.
In the words of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the largest flight attendant union in the U.S.:
“We are committed not only to preparing our membership to recognize and report suspected instances of human trafficking, but also to raise public awareness of the problem…putting an end to human trafficking will require a coordinated effort and commitment of the entire transportation industry.”