Last Thursday, December 3rd in New York City, Airline Ambassadors International celebrated CHILDREN OF THE WORLD at the United Nations. AAI provides humanitarian assistance to children and families in need as well as international relief and development to under-privileged communities worldwide. It is the only non-profit in the world leveraging connections with the airline industry to facilitate humanitarian efforts, and is recognized by the US Congress and the United Nations. AAI has been granted official U.N. Non-Governmental Organization status.
President and founder, Nancy Rivard, is employed by American Airlines and has been since 1976. She was moving up the management line of American Airlines, but decided to move back to her original position as a flight attendant. She founded Airline Ambassadors in 1996. Originally, AAI began with airline personnel bringing relief and aid to smaller underdeveloped countries whenever Rivard and her colleagues had a layover. AAI has now expanded to 6000 members including medical and business professionals, students and retirees.
Rivard has gotten American Airlines to get involved and provide needed aircraft to deliver shipments to smaller countries. Monthly volunteer mission groups organize in the several selected countries to distribute relief and aid to the needy countries.Thursday's event presented two awards. The 2009 Global Compassion Award went to Joaquin Antuna and Paz y Cooperacion. Paz y Cooperacion was founded by Joaquin Antuna in 1982. It has been centered on promoting a movement of non-violence and creativity and on building a world of solidarity. Airline Ambassadors has partnered with Paz y Cooperacion since 1996 with their annual international school competition, the Peace and Cooperation School Award. The School Award encourages students and teachers to reflect upon the important issues of our time.
The 2009 Global Humanitarian Award went to the McCord Foundation, Jim and Darlene McCord. The McCord Research Foundation is the philanthropic arm of McCord Research, supporting programs and causes close to the hearts of Jim and Darlene McCord. The foundation currently funds many activities including research by the University of Tennessee on a cure for Buruli Ulcer which effects many children in Africa. Darlene McCord informed the audience that Buruli Ulcer is the quiet epidemic that is affecting children in Ghana. Buruli Ulcer is a skin disease caused by bacteria that is a genetic cousin to the bacteria that causes leprosy and tuberculosis. Like leprosy, patients with Buruli ulcer develop ulcers on their body that can eventually cripple and even kill them.
To help celebrate the evening, performances were led by George Sigma and Jamia Nash. Mr. Sigma debuted an original one of a song entitled “PEACE”, in which in just 3 minutes and 12 seconds he includes the word ‘peace’ in 77 languages and idioms. Thirteen year old singer and actress Jamia Nash sung the inspirational song “Hero” by Mariah Carey. Jamia spoke very eloquently about how passionate she is about AAI and the work that is to be done. Ms. Nash is known for appearing in the film, “August Rush” and singing the song, “Raise It Up”. She currently stars in the daytime soap, “The Young and the Restless”.
The CHILDREN OF THE WORLD event last Thursday raised continued awareness and acknowledged those coming together through shared resources and public engagement to make an international global difference.