50-Year-Old Airline Program Revived to Assist Nepal

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In September, a 50-year-old humanitarian program founded by New York-based Dooley Intermed will be revived with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) headquartered in Washington, D.C. Airline personnel will participate in programs devoted to improving health conditions for the people of Nepal.

NEW YORK (Sept. 17, 2015) – When an international relief organization needed help overseas in the 1960’s, it made perfect sense to turn to airline stewardesses. They were traveling the world anyway, were good with the public, and knew first aid. Over 26 airlines were involved from 1961 to 1988, sending over 300 pilots and flight attendants (as they’re called now) to provide humanitarian assistance to remote health clinics on behalf of New York-based Dooley Intermed International.

In September, the program will be revived by Dooley Intermed in partnership with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) headquartered in Washington, D.C. Airline personnel will participate in programs devoted to improving health conditions for the people of Nepal.

The first team of current and former FA’s leave Sept. 15, 2015, for Kathmandu to volunteer at the nearby Eco-Farm Home for Orphaned Children in the Sankkhu–Sharada Village, in cooperation with Mission Himalaya (http://www.facebook.com/MissionHimalaya). They will teach hygiene and health, English, science, and math for a stay lasting two weeks.

“We decided to revive the program based upon interest last May at a Nepal earthquake fund-raiser that Dooley held at The Explorers Club in New York,” said Scott Hamilton, Dooley Intermed president. “Airline personnel are well-trained and highly motivated for volunteer assistance that meets a clearly defined need in a country severely impacted by poverty and natural disasters.”

Said Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors, “We welcome the opportunity to work with Dooley Intermed. Our network of airline personnel, students, medical professionals, families and retirees who volunteer as ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill’ have addressed many of the same issues of poverty and hunger, education, health, child welfare, community development, and disaster relief.”

Rivard continues, “This is a logical extension of our core mission of providing for orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.”

Dooley’s Dollies

The airline volunteer program was conceived in 1961 by Dooley Intermed’s then president and founder, Dr. Verne Chaney, to provide volunteer assistance to its medical and educational programs. Dr. Chaney obtained the interest and support of the management of Pan American World Airways to allow its stewardesses to be granted a three-month leave of absence without pay, to voluntarily work in the various projects. Pan Am provided transportation to and from the project sites.

The stewardesses worked alongside Dooley Intermed’s doctors and nurses in its clinics, hospitals, orphanages and schools or wherever there was a need for extra help. Called “Dooley’s Dollies” in media coverage at the time, the women were assigned to Dooley Intermed project sites in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

“Besides being of immense value to patients, the program provided enormous positive awareness for the airlines involved,” said Hamilton. “Pan Am ran ads headlined, ‘When your Pan Am stewardess isn’t serving you, she may be serving mankind.’”

Barbara Price, retired director of corporate travel for UBS Investment Bank in New York, fondly remembers her time in the field with Dooley Intermed. As a Pan Am employee, she spent three months in remote areas of Nepal assisting a Registered Nurse. In the late 1970’s many villages could only be reached on foot. Often sleeping in tents with a group of Sherpa, she performed vaccinations, measured blood pressure, gathered blood samples for further study and conducted heath education classes with a battery-powered filmstrip projector.         

“Oh my goodness. It was the experience of a lifetime,” she said recently. “The airline’s volunteer program in Nepal, combined with Dooley Intermed’s know-how, allowed me to positively influence hundreds of lives.”

When word about the opportunity was released on social media, former Dooley volunteer Kate Jewell (who will be coordinating the missions), was deluged with interest and responses from enough volunteers to fill all eight trips this fall, according to AAI’s Nancy Rivard.

For more information: http://www.dooleyintermed.org, http://www.airlineamb.org

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Jeff Blumenfeld
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