Even though Caracas and Odessa are 9788 km away from each other, local Hubs are dealing with similar problems, facing resembling perspectives and discovering new levels of what “where change goes to work” mean.
Not so long ago, Czech team from Impact Hub Prague heard terrible news on what happened in Caracas and that an opening of a local Impact Hub was postponed. Few months later, Odessa underwent a dreadful attack at the center of the city. “I remember exactly the moment when I got the news. The only reaction I was able to provide was a brief email to Maryna, one of the co-founders: ‘Is everyone OK?!!'” recalls Katka. The offer of any possible help came right after, however, there was actually not much to do. “Above all, we need to spread the word, share real news with the rest of the world,” both Maryna and Claudia from Venezuela agreed.
Since the start of civic protests in February, Caracas has been dealing with a difficult political situation. Government endangered by continuous disorder started censoring media, made impossible for companies to buy foreign currency and limited access to basic medicine or food. Claudia expresses her upset: “Nevertheless, the worst thing is that we cannot import paper to our country so it is becoming unfeasible to print newspapers. Whole society lacks information. Our refuge lies in the hands of social media and willingness of people to understand what the situation is really about.”
Ukraine has been in the middle of a complete political instability since autumn. Society divided by two opposite opinions of EU, massive protests and fights in the capital city and all over the country, which ended in the notorious President fleeing from the country. Immediately after that Russia claimed Crimea as their territory and a threat of occupying more parts of the country led to a series of conflicts. At the beginning of May, a massive attack took place also in Odessa, at the same street where Hub is located. “Some people were shot, 40+ died in fire, it felt like a real war time. There were days when we had to keep the door of the Hub shut, or take extra safety measures.” Maryna says.
No matter what, both ladies accompanied by their teams take the bull by the horns and put as much effort as possible to continue in pursuing their common dream to provide a place for social innovation. “We waited for the right moment to open Impact Hub Caracas. Our plan was February but the current situation did not let us do it until last week.” Even though it is very complicated to fulfill business goals when an inflation is over 60 % and people get shot at streets but Claudia with her team will be soon launching a crowdfunding campaign to ensure some extra money for management and operations. In the meantime, they provide their space for public talks. “We feel obliged to initiate civic engagement, discussion on economy transformation and political reformation. We have radically altered our programming to react on a current situation,” continues Maryna. “And that is the moment, when our philosophy and claim ‘where change goes to work’ gets to another level.”
Both ladies agree that their countries need social innovation badly. Even though the light at the end of the tunnel might not be so visible right now and future is unclear, Hub community should remain strong and unified no matter what. Maryna and Claudia are more than happy to provide first hand news to anyone who is interested and they are open to any kind of dialog. Because these are real ideas worth spreading.