Two Harvard University students have created a website connecting thousands of Ukrainian refugees with hosts around the world offering them a safe haven from the fighting.
More than three million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and teenager Avi Schiffmann felt like he needed to help.
After coming face to face with hundreds of Ukrainian Americans at a pro-Ukraine demonstration in San Diego, the student contacted his classmate Marco Burstein and told him about his idea.
The pair then spent almost ƒevery waking moment designing, editing and perfecting a website dedicated to assisting refugees.
“They need assistance, immediately and on a really big scale, and I had to find a way to make that happen as soon as possible,” Schiffmann, 19, told CNN.
Ukraine Take Shelter launched on March 3 and, within a week, more than 4,000 people had created listings offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees.
The website design is simple. Refugees enter the nearest city where they hope to flee and go through available listings, each with its personalized description of the accommodation.
Finally, the refugee can click on the phone or email button to get the personal contact information of the listing holder.
“For me, I’m behind a computer across the world, which is what I’m good at, but it’s very disconnected sometimes,” Schiffmann said.
“To see so many people from countries in every corner of the world doing something to help these refugees, who need and deserve safety, is really inspiring.”