Russia's invasion of Ukraine and starting of a potential World War III is devastating and heartbreaking to say the least. According to the Guardian, over a million Ukrainian refugees have already left the homes they love, and up to three million more are predicted in months to come to flee to neighboring countries Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary. It's easy to feel hopeless in trying to find ways to help Ukrainians while on a completely different continent. But thanks to the internet and social media, there are effective ways we can help even from halfway across the world. And thankfully, those ways to help are spreading like wildfire.
Popular Instagram account @Quentin.Quarantino shared with its 904,000 followers an easy way to help the people of Ukraine without having to go through massive non-profit organizations. While non-profits who are working to help those affected by the Ukraine war are doing great work, the social media account shared how people can donate money that goes straight to the refugees as quickly as possible: by booking Airbnbs with Ukrainian hosts.
The response was pleasantly insane.
The Instagram account is run by Tommy Marcus, an influencer from Brooklyn who raised $7 million last year on a GoFundMe to help evacuate Afghan refugees when the Taliban took over. He created the post with specific information on what to do, along with responses people were getting from Ukrainian hosts after booking. "Each of these is just one small act of kindness, but look at the impact it's having. I've been sent so many of these screenshots it was hard to pick which ones to put in here. Just amazing?," he said in the post's caption. He also added some tips on how else people can help against the Russian invasion:
1. If you want to do this too, try to pick small apartments/rooms for rent in cities that have been hit hard by bombing. Book the rooms for as close a date as possible, as the payment goes through once the booking date occurs. Also, make sure to tell the host you will not be coming. ?Please note that AirBNB is not charging fees in Ukraine. ?
2. I have listed four charities to donate to in the link in my bio, this is just another way you can help in a small way. A random act of kindness goes a long way. ??
3. Other related ideas: support Ukrainian merchants on Etsy, whether digital downloads or physical goods that you specify do not need to be delivered. You can also book "AirBNB experiences" in Ukraine ?
As always, I'm genuinely dumbfounded by the impact this community has on a consistent basis."
Is This a Scam?
Thankfully, no. Airbnb responded to the idea by announcing that they would wave guest and host fees for people booking Airbnb rentals in Ukraine. Airbnb Communications Director Liz DeBold Fusco told the New York Post, "We are humbled by the inspiring generosity of our community during this moment of crisis. Airbnb is temporarily waiving guest and Host fees on bookings in Ukraine at this time. We also encourage anyone interested in getting involved with Airbnb.org to go to airbnb.org/help-ukraine, and support Airbnb.org's initiative to provide housing to refugees fleeing Ukraine, by becoming a Host or donating,"
And according to DeBold, there have already been more than 357,000 visitors to the page.
Many of the Ukrainian hosts have been responding to those who have been booking their Airbnb vacation rentals, thanking them for the help. Responses have been shared online to share, support, and encourage the movement.
What Else Can I Do?
Airbnb is also presenting several other options to help Ukrainian refugees. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced on Twitter that they're offering free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. The temporary housing will be funded by their corporation and donations to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund and from Airbnb hosts. They also announced last week that they have helped provide free housing to 21,300 Afghan refugees and plan to also house another 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and other regions, along with the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
You can also host refugees, which Airbnb walks you through the entire process as long as you can provide a comfortable bed and basic amenities anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You can find out more information on airbnb.org/help-ukraine. But if you want to book some stays to help Ukrainian hosts, you can start with https://www.airbnb.com/ukraine/stays and/or https://www.airbnb.com/kyiv-ukraine/stays.
Now more than ever does our world need to come together as a community. Whether you give the smallest donation, book a cheap or expensive stay in Ukraine, and/or host a refugee, your efforts will go a long way.
Support Ukrainian refugees by seeing how you can help on https://www.airbnb.org/help-ukraine. If you have any other tips on how to help Ukraine during this war, share your advice with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook. Thank you.
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