Thousands book Airbnb in Ukraine to donate to war-affected people


Hilary Mak was at home in Surrey, England on Thursday afternoon when her daughter shared an Instagram post on a medium to send money to Ukrainians. The idea, the message said, was to book Airbnbs.

“It captured my imagination,” Mak, 59, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I’ve donated to charities, but I thought maybe it was a way to connect with people on an individual basis… and let them know that people are behind them and want to do whatever they want. ‘they can to help.’

Mak found a rental in Kyiv and messaged the host saying she wanted to help. The host responded immediately, Mak said.

“She said, ‘Our kids are staying in the basement,'” recalls Mak, a psychiatrist, adding that the host sent a photo from the shelter showing her daughters bundled up in winter coats and hats and eating on a bed next to their car. . “She said, ‘I hope you never know what war is.’ ”

“I just cried,” Mak said. “It was very personal.”

The bride wore trellis. The wedding party carried guns and RPGs.

Mak is one of thousands of people who use Airbnb as an immediate and intimate way to help those experience the war in Ukraine. On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine by people around the world, according to an Airbnb spokesperson, who added that the total value of bookings was nearly $2 million.

The company last weekend renounced all guest and host charges on bookings in Ukraine and stated that operations in Russia and Belarus have been suspended. Last Monday, Airbnb announced that it was offering “free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine”, according to a Press release.

The initiative to book Ukrainian rentals seems to have been started by Tommy Marcus, the creator of social media Account @quentin.quarantino, which promotes fundraising campaigns and posts political memes. In August, Marcus led a fundraising campaign to help evacuate Afghans after Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban. The effort later proved difficult to pull off after millions in donations poured in when the plea for help went viral and charter flights from Afghanistan were subsequently cancelled, a Post survey found. Marcus did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

In an Instagram Story on Thursday, Marcus said he was tagged in about 300 posts from people saying they had booked Airbnbs in Ukraine.

“Almost all of the posts have the same energy of gratitude and desire to convey the act of kindness,” he wrote.

Susan Moray, 70, heard about the initiative on Twitter. The campaign was personal, she said, because she gets her main income from an Airbnb host in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Moray pondered what it would mean for her to suddenly lose that income. So she decided to book a “stayaway” from March 5-8, the quickest option available since hosts only get paid once the rental begins, she said.

“I think any way to bring money directly to them is a great way to help out,” Moray said. The post office.

Moray made sure to book a stay with someone living in Kyiv, rather than a company or hotel. Her host responded and thanked her for her support.

“We will use this money to help everyone who needs help in this difficult time – the elderly, women, children who stayed in Kyiv and need food, medicine, warm clothes,” wrote the host, Iryna, to Moray in posts reviewed by The Post. “We have united a group of like-minded people and created a team of volunteers who provide everything people need.”

As Russia closed in, the teachers fled Kyiv on a school bus. Then they returned to the fray to save the others.

Cass Kachel, 40, said she was looking for listings of individual rooms, believing that people who rent out a room in their house “probably need income,” she told the Post. Kachel, a jewelry designer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, booked a one-night stay for $60 and plans to do it again when she gets her next paycheck.

“Ordinary people are the ones who suffer the most, they are the ones who pay the highest price and they are the ones who suffer,” Kachel said. “I felt like it was important for me to do something.”

For Mak, the psychiatrist from Surrey, the most striking moment when looking for a rental in Kyiv was seeing reviews of stays from just a few weeks ago.

“It was just a city, which had a beautiful cathedral and which people wanted to visit as tourists,” she said, “…and it was gone in a week.”

Mak has stayed in touch with her host, checking in on how she, her husband and her two children are doing. Mak said she convinced her friends and family to also book Airbnbs in Ukraine.

“We’re just ordinary people living ordinary lives with complete freedom, and that’s such a privilege,” Mak said. “I just think it would be great if more people could do it. It’s just a small gesture, really.

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