The management consultant Amr Arafa founded a website to give users the opportunity to open their homes and allow refugees to stay — all for free.
You may have seen the picture of 5-year-old Omran, covered in dried blood and soot, rescued from an airstrike in Syria. On Saturday, Omran's 10-year-old brother died from injuries sustained in that same airstrike.
A similar viral moment prompted the D.C. man to take action to help refugees.
"I kind of identify with vulnerable people," Arafa said.
Arafa started the site in November 2015. He said he has just a handful of users, and he offers up his own home as well.
"I managed to host six people so far. I feel like they are friends now, they always check on me,” he said. “They follow up with progress of EmergencyBNB and all of a sudden I just had six friends who really appreciate what I've done for them.”
Arafa has been in the United States for 10 years. He was born in Kuwait to Egyptian parents. But when he was just 8 years old, an Iraqi attack occurred while his family was vacationing. He was unable to return to Kuwait and went back to Egypt.
He said he knows his situation is not the same as what the refugees of today are facing.
"When people leave their last sense of home, I really feel for them," he said.
He's currently redesigning the site to make it more user-friendly, he said, and hopes it will be a success.
In addition to helping refugees, Arafa expanded the site to provide a place for victims of domestic violence to stay when they escape the abuse.
"People are good here,” Arafa said. “When they have the mechanism to give to help others, they do."