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Two young people aged 18 and 19 create a platform to provide accommodation for thousands of Ukrainian refugees The website was created in three days by the entrepreneurs and works as a kind of Airbnb to connect those fleeing the war with people who can receive them.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition.

Cavan Images | Getty Images

War worries us. It stuns us, overwhelms us and, in some cases, moves us to action.
That happened to Avi Schiffmann , a 19-year-old student at Harvard University who sought ways to help those affected by the conflict currently raging in Ukraine. After talking with his partner and friend, Marco Burstein , 18, who is also studying at Harvard, they decided to start a project to help Ukrainian refugees find a place to stay during the conflict. This is how Ukraine Take Shelter was born, a website built on the fly (in just three days and without much sleep) and which has managed to get more than 10,000 people to register to receive people who have had to leave their homes in their homes. country for war.


The simple-looking website allows "hosts" to register their properties, asking for location data, a brief description, the number of people they can accommodate and if it is possible to bring children to their property. In addition, ask them to define if pets are accepted, the duration of the accommodation and the contact details. "Guests" are asked to indicate their current location so that they can see the options available near them. In reality, it is very similar to the way Airbnb works, but with a simple and intuitive registration process, thinking that the people who will use it find themselves in a complex situation and the last thing they need is to get lost in infinite forms. The site was developed with extreme security measures to prevent attacks and the presence of bots. Ukraine Take Shelter currently offers accommodation for refugees in France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, the United States, Chile, Nicaragua, Brazil, Australia, and Thailand, among many other countries. The site is available in twelve different languages.


Ukraine Take Shelter is not the first community serving project developed by Avi Schiffmann. When the Covid19 pandemic broke out in January 2020, the young man developed nCov2019.live , a live tracker that compiles data on infections and deaths by country. The project earned the young man the Person of the Year award at the Webby Awards . The young student and his friend claim to have learned to code before entering Harvard University through YouTube tutorials. Both have shown what technology can do when used in service of those affected, such as the refugees from Ukraine today.


Eduardo Scheffler Zawadzki

Entrepreneur Staff

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