Michele Klein, a Fort Mill resident and a member of Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), wants to bring human trafficking awareness training to the Charlotte area.
To accomplish this and to advocate for the training, AAI hosted a fundraiser at the St. Philip Neri Catholic church on June 10th. There they gave a presentation on state efforts to combat trafficking as well as provided a screening of the movie Sold about a girl who had been trafficked from her village in Nepal to a brothel in India. The success of June 10th has led to conversations about future event in Rock Hill.
What Klein and AAI are proposing as a solution will involve everyone. AAI is a non-profit organization that began as a network of airline employees. It now has expanded into a network of students, medical professionals, families and retirees who all volunteer as “Ambassadors of Goodwill” in their home communities and abroad. Klein and AAI travel city to city and provide two-day training sessions on how to recognize human trafficking. Everyone, from restaurant workers to law enforcement agencies and personnel have taken the training, often with an uptick in arrests immediately following it.
Though the training is tailored to the travel industry and sectors of airline/airport personnel, hotel employees, tourism companies, law enforcement and ground transportation, it is open and beneficial to everyone. At a similar training in Houston, the police force was in attendance as well as people who would be working the Super Bowl. The training covers all forms of trafficking, though sex trafficking is the focus, as it is easier to spot than labor trafficking. The seminars include handout materials, a powerpoint presentation depicting numerous real cases and play-acting potential scenarios in small groups. After successful completion of the training and a demonstration of their knowledge of the issue and how to respond, participants receive a certification of completion.
Individuals who work in and around airports have a higher likelihood of coming across trafficked victims, however, any person who works with the public could potentially be able to save a life if they participated in these trainings. The training focuses on the warning signs of trafficking so that they can be more easily identifiable: someone who is trafficking in people will often answer questions for the victim, observe the victim persistently, give evasive answers, may not know the personal information of the victim or even pose as a relative.
An important thing to remember is that anyone can be a trafficker; man or woman, young or old, foreigner or citizen, stranger or family member, even and intimate partner. No one is excluded from being a human trafficker by virtue of any particular trait. If you believe you have come across a victim of human trafficking, the most important thing to do is to call 911. Do not confront the suspected trafficker, do not try to rescue the victim, do not display unusual concern or alarm, and above all else, do not endanger yourself or others.
To learn more about Airline Ambassadors International, please click here.
Marks, J. (June 1, 2017). A Fort Mill woman has a plan to stop human trafficking. And it involves everyone. The Herald. Retrieved from http://www.heraldonline.com/news/local/community/fort-mill-times/article153863524.html
(2015). Human Trafficking. Airline Ambassadors International. Retrieved from http://airlineamb.org/our-programs/human-trafficking-awareness/
(2015). About Us. Airline Ambassadors International. Retrieved from http://airlineamb.org/about-us/