Traveling is one thing a lot of people missed doing when the pandemic first struck. As a result of canceled flights, a lot of us ended up with miles and travel vouchers that we had no idea when it would be safe to use next. In comes Miles4Migrants, a 501(c)(3) charity that uses donated frequent flyer miles to reunite families around the world separated by war, persecution, and disaster.
Instead of being sad that you’re unable to use your miles or vouchers, you now have the opportunity to gift them to those in need.
Miles4Migrants partners with over 50 nonprofits across the world to identify refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and their immediate family members in need. It does not discriminate by race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other identity. After identifying those in need, it pays for the flights of those who can legally enter a new country but cannot afford the airfare.
“We’ve flown people from I don’t even know how many countries at this point—it’s an insane number of countries. We have flown Afghans who worked as translators for the U.S. military; we have flown LGBT activists. We have flown Cubans who protested the dictatorship. We flew a man who carried his handicapped son from Honduras to the U.S. border. We flew a Thai folk band who wrote songs about how they didn’t like the Thai government and then the Thai government tried to kill them,” Miles4Migrants co-founder Seth Stanton told PEOPLE.
“We flew a family from Zimbabwe where the husband’s father was a politician and he lost his political race and the opposition decided that they would not only kill him but also his oldest son, so the family knew they shouldn’t be part of politics anymore. The stories just go on and on.”
With the current state of Afghanistan, the organization is gathering more attention as it helps to fly out refugees and asylum seekers during the crisis.
“We had been flying people out of Afghanistan right up until the airport [in Kabul] was closed. We have no idea how long it’s going to be closed. We have families that are scheduled to depart the airport within the next several days, within the next several weeks, within the next month, that we are hopeful will be able to depart,” Stanton said.
Those who are interested in donating have a few options. Begin by visiting the site Miles4Migrants.org, where you can pledge frequent flier miles, credit card points, money, or vouchers from canceled flights. The process is simple:
- Donors can follow this link and pledge miles.
- Once the organization’s NGO partners identify a family in need of your miles, the Miles4Migrants team of flight bookers reaches out to you to fulfill your pledge.
- Their team of flight bookers will then use your miles information to book a flight.
- A family is then reunited!
To make it even more personal, the organization noted that it often sends a photograph or note from the family or people that have been helped.
“We always ask if we can use the photo publicly, can we use your name, your photo, should we blur your faces out?” Photos of families reunited by Miles4Migrants can be found on the organization’s Twitter page.
But I must warn you, they are tear-jerking.