They used to be called Stews (Stewardesses and Stewards) but got a name change years ago to flight attendants…and they have always had a philanthropic focus in addition to a pretty thankless job. More than absorbing our complaints about how airlines make us pay for pretzels and pillows, more than reminding us to bring our seat into a full upright position, and no we can’t use our phone to call home mid-flight, flight attendants are there first for our safety, and second for our service. We forget that and assume their primary function is to be a waitress or busboy.
One of the perks of the profession is the chance to fly all over the world and have days off in cities far from home. This has always meant that flight attendants have a broader cultural awareness than the general public (and can probably give some great advice for dining and shopping and things to do in any city where they have had days off). World Wings International is the philanthropic arm of former PAN AM Flight Attendants. This organization of air alumni finds international projects to support financially and with volunteering. They are most currently rallying support for Women for Afghan Women, an NGO that provides a range of assistance programs—shelters, schools, legal aid, and help in fighting the most egregious human right violations in Afghanistan. Moved by the story of Bibi Aisha, the 19-year-old woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her jealous husband (who was aided by the Taliban) WWI has stepped into action. Women for Afghan Women first sheltered Aisha, and for them, World Wings is raising money and awareness.
In addition to upping your respect quotient for the flight attendants who are working while you’re reclining headed on your next (volunteer?) vacation, take a look at what is important to them based on their broad world awareness, and support Women for Afghan Women or other organizations dedicated to ending violence and cruelty around the world.