Miles4Migrants Goes Viral Reuniting Reunites Refugees
As per the new stats in June 2020 by the UN High Commissioner for refugees AKA UNHCR, it is estimated that nearly 79.5 million civilians are displaced globally with close to +26 million categorized as refugees who fled their hometowns to other countries. Many refugees can go home after calamities like natural disasters, wars, or other tragedies come to an end. There are still 1.445 million people in need of resettlement and have no home to return to. There is also a major challenge for homeland security and the government to properly relocate people, as the minimum quota and the ever-increasing expansion of incoming refugees cause congestion.
Several refugees try to make it to a new country but still have their family members who remain stuck abroad and desperately seeking asylum. There is also the monetary factor, where families lakh the financial resources to get their loved ones across to safety. With oil prices skyrocketing and air travel becoming extremely expensive, refugees trying to escape through other means are even more difficult and sometimes can be fatal. Even if people still manage to take funds to get their loved ones abroad, they end up in financial debt due to heavy loans and immediately have to begin payments within 6 months.
For example, an average loan cost per person is around $1,100 per individual. While certain refugees who legally seek sanatorium from Mexico at the US border are informed to report to an immigration court or ICE, they don’t have enough time or the leverage to apply for loans. For refugees time is critical and the need for aid to assist them to get to their destination is an urgent factor. This is where organizations like Miles4Migrants come to the rescue.
What is Miles4Migrants?
Miles4Migrants commit an oath to assist stranded refugees who are financially burdened by rendering financial support. The 501(c)(3) charitable organization is devoted to offering regular flyer miles for refugees running away from wars, disasters, and even persecution to start fresh in a new country. The organization partners with non-profit agencies to identify and screen asylees and refugees who can legally travel but lack the airfare to do so. Miles4Migrant has helped families reunite around the world and given refugees the new start they so desperately deserve. The stories where families have untied thanks to the organization’s efforts and pursuance is heart touching and emotional.
“The people that we help have all experienced great trauma – they’ve all had to flee their home countries, find themselves in a new community without much support, and have been separated from their families, often for years on end. We simply want to give them a leg up, so that they can start anew, and contribute to their new communities in the way they want to, without the burden of debt, and with the support of their loved ones. We want them to thrive, not just survive,” Managing Director and Co-founder Mr. Andy Freedman.
What has Miles4Migrants Achieved So Far?
Miles4Migrants have flown over 1,600 refugees since 2016 and reunited +600 families. So far, they have used over 27 million frequent flying miles with more than 700 thousand dollars in cash equivalents. In 2019 itself Miles4Migrants successfully flew 380 asylees and refugees internationally. They were also a big assist for 708 people in the ongoing worsening U.S border crisis.
Behind The Inspiration Of Miles4Migrants
The three innovative co-founders Nick, Seth, and Andy had met up on Reddit where they hit off with similar interests and communicated their passion to repurpose frequent flyer miles to assist the global refugee situation. After researching documentaries and stories shared by refugees and the challenges they faced, it was clear that people migrating faced financial difficulty and for whatever reason, whether disasters or war, could only make do with what monetary funds they could carry or access.
The refugees also faced a huge challenge with the language barrier and found it difficult to get a loan or find employment to save for their airfare. The Co-founders of Miles4Migrants found the airfare challenge to be absurd and soon had an epiphany when Nick had posted a tale of how he used his frequent flyer miles to help reunite a Pakistani family of seven people being persecuted and had the legal right to migrate but lacked the airfare expense. This was the domino effect that soon led to the three of them joining forces with a mission that no family should stay apart on account of no airfare money.
The Domino Effect
Since the age expansion and awareness of the organization, people have poured in benevolence by donating their frequent flyer miles to help refugees. The company now has full-time dedicated volunteers who book flight tickets and has received a goodwill humanitarian 800-thousand-dollars grant from ‘The Shapiro Foundation’ and ‘TripAdvisor’. This helps make complicated or multi-booking processing seamless.
The Miles Ahead
Since the build-up of refugees has increased even further, they have only scratched the surface of the crisis said Andy and are rigorously working with donors and NGO partners. They are also always on the lookout for new corporate sponsors who feel like aiding and abetting the cause. Anything that anyone can contribute in terms of technology, tools, and experience that can help them grow further.
What Is The Next Agenda?
As per Andy Freedman’s interview report with CNN “We have yet to support a US immigrant family separation case but we are actively working with a few US-based organizations and moving a million miles an hour to put our new miles donations to use in helping to reunite families that remain separated,”
The Social Media Impact
Two years before Wilensky’s tweet had gone viral, the organization had reserved flights for+150 people with the sole purpose of reuniting families who were tormented by the Afghan and Syrian war calamity. The organization acquired substantial 3.1 million frequent flyer miles in donations. However, with Wilensky’s tweet, Miles4migrants had attained 4.5million miles under 48hours and approached an astounding 8miilion benchmark by Friday. As per Seth Stanton, domestic flights have an average of 20k miles per ticket and he expects that Miles4Migrants can fly +300 refugees to be reunited with their loved ones soon.
Learn more about https://miles4migrants.org/ and get involved.