Sheila Frederick’s ordinary day as a flight attendant on a routine flight between Seattle and San Francisco took a startling turn that would change her life forever. In the midst of the usual excitement and anticipation of air travel, she noticed an unsettling presence on the plane: an elderly man seated next to a young, disheveled blonde girl.
Something about the girl’s desperate gaze caught Sheila’s attention, and she knew she had to investigate further. Approaching the man, Sheila sensed his defensiveness and anger, leading her to believe that there was more to the situation than met the eye. Trusting her instincts, she devised a daring plan to help the distressed girl.
Sheila discreetly placed a pen and paper in the airplane restroom, hoping the girl would discover it and leave a message if she needed assistance. She then signaled the girl to use the restroom, her heart racing with anticipation. When Sheila retrieved the note left by the girl, she was met with a chilling message: “I need help.” Without hesitation, Sheila alerted the authorities, ensuring that they were ready to apprehend the individual responsible for the girl’s ordeal upon landing.
As it turned out, the 14-year-old girl had fallen victim to human trafficking, having been kidnapped just two months prior and subjected to unimaginable horrors. Sheila’s quick thinking and decisive actions led to the girl’s rescue and the capture of her trafficker. This life-changing event spurred Sheila to join forces with Airline Ambassadors International, an organization that trains flight attendants to recognize signs of human trafficking.
Together, they actively combat this heinous crime by cooperating with US Customs and Border Patrol. Sheila became a staunch advocate for raising awareness about the issue, emphasizing that there are numerous warning signs that can be identified and acted upon. Human trafficking remains a grave concern, with the United Nations estimating that approximately 1.2 million children become victims of this crime each year.
Boys and girls alike suffer from forced labor, sexual exploitation, and even recruitment as child soldiers. Sheila Frederick’s bravery and the efforts of vigilant flight attendants who work tirelessly to combat human trafficking deserve recognition and support. By sharing this story and raising awareness, we can collectively work to make a difference in the ongoing fight against this horrifying crime.