1 year ago

Teen Behind The Biggest COVID Info Site Makes An Airbnb For Ukrainian Refugees To Find Shelter

Bobins Abraham
Bobins Abraham
Updated on Mar 17, 2022, 18:50 IST- 3 min read -82 Shares

Avi Schiffmann, a teenager who created, one of the biggest worldwide COVID-19 real-time data tracker websites two years ago has now come up with a new online tool for Ukrainian refugees to find shelter.

Schiffmann, a 19-year-old Harvard University student launched his new website Ukraine Take Shelter on March 3 to help those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Avi Schiffmann Avi Schiffmann

According to Schiffmann it all began after he attended an anti-war protest, days after Putin invaded Ukraine.

“I know how to make all these websites and apps and, you know, I felt that nobody was going to do it,” said Schiffmann told NBC. “So why don't I just do it? So, I made this website.”

"a cool idea would be to set up a website to match Ukrainian refugees to hosts in neighboring countries," he wrote on Twitter on February 28.

This was followed by another Tweet that said that he had already started making the website.

“That night, I started working on designing the user interface and the basic site structure, went to sleep, woke up in the morning, and called my friend Marco from college, who's an amazing web developer,” said Schiffmann. 

On March 1, he followed it up with another Tweet saying the website is 90% complete.

According to Schiffmann the website allows potential host families to set up an account, offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees. “If someone has a couch available, they can support a refugee,” Avi told The Washington Post. “And if somebody has an entire house, they can put it on the site and support a whole family…. What we’ve done is put out a super fast, stripped-down version of Airbnb.”

Ukraine Take Shelter Ukraine Take Shelter

He said that within a week, over 4,000 potential hosts signed up.

Available in 12 languages

The website is available in 12 languages and refugees can type in their current locations, and dozens of host offers pop up. 

The listings include the language spoken by the host, information about the space available, and whether pets are allowed, etc.

More than three million Ukrainians have become refugees in the three weeks since Russia invaded their country.

Ukraine refugees Reuters

Around 1.8 million have fled to Poland. Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova also are hosting a large number of Ukrainians.

With the war showing no signs of ending, the number of displaced Ukrainians are likely to go up further in the coming days. 

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