SAN DIEGO — Making the bed is an act of love for Echo Roben.
She’s getting ready to host another Ukrainian family seeking asylum in America while the war in Ukraine continues.
Roben just finished hosting her first Ukrainian family, parents and their two kids, who she connected with through the website UkraineTakeShelter.com.
“All we could think was, ‘Oh my gosh, we have an extra room.’ See if we can help anyone along their journey far away from home,” Roben said.
The website has become a lifeline for refugees trying to find a safe place during the war.
“There, so far, have been over 10,000 families that have found real housing through this site,” Avi Schiffmann said.
Schiffmann is 19 years old and developed the website with his friend Marco Burstein while they were students at Harvard.
In just three days, they built Ukraine Take Shelter to connect Ukrainian refugees with potential hosts and housing all over the world. He hopes the website keeps helping people and also inspires everyone to do what they can to make the world a better place.
“This website has had a real impact on the war so far,” he said. “And I’m just some random 19-year-old who’s gone on YouTube and learned how to code. And I think a lot of other people could do the same. There’s always something happening around the world.”
When Schiffmann was 17, he developed a website, ncov2019.live, to help track the spread of the coronavirus around the world. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci presented him a Webby Person of the Year award online in 2020. He’s also built websites for Black Lives Matter and the 2020 presidential election.
Roben will always remember her first family, even as she gets ready to welcome whoever needs her next.
“I got a note today from the host mom, and she had it translated into English, but she said that the most important thing that we bought them was time,” she said. “Time to figure it out.”