'If you see something, say something’
It’s not everyday that you think you’ll be able to do something heroic but when Sheila Fedrick noticed something odd about a young teenage girl on a flight, she proved that even the smallest of actions can have the biggest of consequences.
Back in 2011, Alaskan Airlines flight attendant Sheila noticed a disheveled girl travelling with a well-dressed older man. ‘The girl looked like she had been through pure hell, Sheila told 10 News.
Despite being deterred from talking to the girl by her supposed guardian, Sheila managed to tell her under her breath to go to the bathroom where she’d left a note for her.
‘She wrote back on the note and said, ‘I need help.’
It turned out that the girl was being trafficked as a sex slave. Sheila then alerted the pilot, who made sure police were waiting when the flight landed.
‘I put my phone number on the note that I left for her and I guess she memorised it, so a few weeks later, she called me,’ Sheila has said. And the pair are still in contact today and the girl is now attending university.
But, this story is not uncommon and now flight crews in America are being trained to actively look out for signs that people may be being human trafficked, thanks to initiative Airline Ambassadors.
It’s reported that 2000 human traffickers and 400 victims were identified back in 2016 by American airline staff alone but it’s estimated that there are over 50,000 young women and children being trafficked into the US every year, according to The Washington Post.