While this work has only just begun, this is an important milestone in Airbnb.org’s commitment in response to the crisis in Afghanistan, one that would not have been possible without the generosity of Airbnb.org donors and the Airbnb Host community. More than 7,000 Hosts on Airbnb have offered free and discounted stays to Afghan refugees to date.
Airbnb.org is also grateful to its partners in this initiative, including all nine US resettlement agencies in this effort — such as longtime partners, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Church World Service (CWS) and HIAS — Afghan-led organizations like Women for Afghan Women and the Afghan Coalition, as well as the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and their national network of 34 resettlement agencies across Canada.
The impact on Airbnb.org Hosts and guests
Recently, Airbnb.org spoke to Host Melissa and guest Shaheen* about their experiences and what the program has meant to them.
Shaheen recently left Afghanistan and is starting a new life in the United States. Through Lutheran Social Services, he received money, groceries, and a free stay through Airbnb.org to help make starting over easier.
Leaving home — including his wife and three kids — has been a difficult journey, but he says he finds comfort in getting outside, meditating, and being creative. He takes walks in a park near his new home, sits at the harbor, and photographs mountains, trees, and flowers. Later, he uses the photos as references for his paintings.
“I release the pressure of the day by painting and doing calligraphy,” Shaheen says. These practices keep him grounded and connected to his home in Afghanistan, while he copes with separation from his family. Shaheen shares that the refugee experience includes grieving the past, adjusting to an unfamiliar present and feeling uncertain about the future.
Still, his stay has broadened Shaheen’s views on home and community in ways he didn’t expect.
I feel like I’m staying in my own house. Even though I don’t know this area, I don’t know the people, I feel 100% safe and I am happy here.
Shaheen, an Afghan refugee in the U.S.
Melissa became an Airbnb Host in March 2021. Through Airbnb.org, she hosted a free stay for a family impacted by Hurricane Ida, and now she’s offering her space to people seeking refuge in other times of crisis.
When she heard about the thousands of refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Melissa was eager to help. She responded to her local YMCA, an Airbnb.org partner, when the organization put out a call for someone who could house a family of seven.
Melissa knew her place was spacious enough to accommodate them comfortably. The creative and natural touches in her home gave her a way to connect with her guests and offer support.
“After my daughter left for college, my home felt like an empty nest,” Melissa says. “Honestly, hosting has really helped with loneliness. It’s nice to see kids playing in the yard, families cooking and playing with my board games.”
Melissa credits her community’s outpouring of support for making the family feel even more welcome in their temporary home.
“The YMCA showed up with a fridge full of groceries.” Melissa says. “Anything the family could want to cook, including halal spices. They also brought three plastic bins full of baby supplies, toiletries, and school supplies.”
Dario Lipovac, Senior Program Director of the Houston YMCA, says that of all the donations his organization receives, housing is the most practical. “It is so telling about people who are open to letting strangers into their home, and the Host community offering support. It’s a unifying moment to see people say, ‘What can we do to help?’”
For anyone looking to become an Airbnb.org Host or donor, go to airbnb.org today and learn how to get started.