I met the most amazing woman tonight: someone who truly embodied the heart and spirit of what I have always thought a nonprofit would be. Maybe I have become slightly cynical after being involved with several more ‘corporate’ type nonprofits; not to say that is bad, but the raw feelings this woman shared were outstanding. It is this emotion that is at the core of an organization that is destined to make a difference.
Triumph? Through Tears: International Cruise Victims
Horror and Worse
The bare bones of the story are that 25-year-old, beautiful, talented and loved Ashley Barnett boarded a three day cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico to celebrate her birthday. She never came home; her body was left alone in a Mexican morgue as her family mourned, and struggled to understand. The bureaucratic blame game, arrogance, obfuscation and finger-pointing among agencies left her mother outraged and stunned. Ashley’s mom realized she had nowhere to turn and find help. And she decided to fight back.
Sadly, this story is not an exception. Felony level crimes including robbery, sexual assault and murder happen on cruise ships virtually daily. These crimes are further compounded by confusing and confounding layers of corporate responsibility, local and foreign jurisdictions, lack of central reporting or investigation. These crimes are routinely dismissed, swept under the rug or dropped through the cracks of a piecemeal system of accountability and legal rights.
The Way Forward: It’s Urgent!
We met as she asked for some thoughts on how to drive their organization forward: they had made major gains with the passage of the 2010 Cruise Safety Act signed by President Obama. This legislation includes a plan of action to help ensure better security and safety and accountability among the ship lines that profit hugely from the traveling public. ICV had dedicated its efforts towards making significant change and not much towards their own sustainability. But the numbers of followers and complaints that have surfaced have told them they are needed now as much as ever and they needed help to find help.
The small group of founders has thus far relied on themselves and a small number of donors to help them do this needed work, but since this has the potential to affect millions of American travelers and millions of other travelers, they need help to continue. There is a true urgency here, as every day, carefree vacationers surrender their safety and rights to a corporation that must have accountability.
Tears and Joy
The tears ran down her face as Jamie told me her story, the story of Meredith, the story of George and so many more. But through those tears I saw a passion and conviction that was a joy. Jamie reminded me of why I chose to do this work: to help those who are truly committed to making things better. ICV is dedicated to saving another mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, aunt, uncle, best friend from ever having to receive one of those calls and be faced with the same horror.
Thank you, Jamie, for reminding us how important the work we do is, and how by sharing our skills we can make a bigger dent in some of the bad out there. This is why we do what we do, this is what makes the work so rewarding.
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