As part of a growing trend of support across the country, Kingstonians are booking Airbnbs in Ukrainian locations, with no intention of travelling.
Pamela Paterson and Tarek Hussein, a Kingston couple who booked a week at a Ukrainian Bed and Breakfast, had heard about the trend on Twitter, and decided to try this avenue to support Ukrainians during the Russian invasion.
“It was so heartbreaking for us to see the conflict Ukrainians are subjected to, and we felt compelled to help,” Paterson shared.
“War affects all of us, and from that perspective, it’s deeply troubling that another country is being subjected to the horrors of war. We are strangers helping strangers,” she stated, noting that they chose to book an Airbnb in Kyiv, an area they knew was heavily damaged by the invasion. “We wanted the financial support to go to the owner directly.”
After months of Ukraine cautioning the world of an impending attack by its neighbour, the Russian military entered and began bombing major Ukrainian cities near the end of February 2022. Since then, hundreds of Ukrainian civilians are reported to have died, while others have taken up arms after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened up the country’s armouries for the public to protect themselves, their land, and the country just a day after Russia’s mounting insurrection. International authorities, including the UK Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian government itself, estimate that, as of the end of February, nearly 700 Ukrainians had died as a result of the conflict and thousands have fled the country seeking refuge in neighbouring European countries.
According to Paterson, there are a few different methods to support Ukrainians via the Airbnb platform. Week-long stays in Kyiv vary in price, but many are available below $200 Canadian. Paterson recommends searching listings which belong to individuals, as opposed to large companies, in order to ensure the money goes directly to Ukrainian residents.
Paterson and her husband booked one week in the Ukrainian capital, from March 21 to March 28. “We also wanted to book as early as possible, so the money would be sent more quickly, but the previous weeks were unavailable,” Paterson said. “Airbnb confirmed our reservation immediately, and I then corresponded with the owner, Denys, right away, just to let him know that we had no intention of coming to Ukraine, but wanted to express our support. He was immensely grateful, and thanked us for helping them in this difficult and dangerous time.”
Both Paterson, an author, and Hussein, manager and owner of Weller Pharmacy, have always been strong supporters of the community and people in general. “We’ve always been focused on how many people we can help in our lifetime,” she said. “We were both members of the Kingston Writers’ Refugee Committee who sponsored a Syrian family to Kingston in 2016. The family are now doing well and are Canadian citizens. The father, Jamal Saeed, is also now a published author in Canada.”
Paterson also shared that Airbnb advises those who would like to contribute this way, to be sure to support a long-standing listing that has reviews from some time ago, to ensure their charity is honoured appropriately.
Read other ways the community is supporting the local Ukrainians in our previous coverage.
Learn more about how Airbnb is supporting Ukrainians on the Airbnb website.