Volunteering in CZ...biggest social issues?

Discussion in 'Culture' started by caulfield2, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    What are the biggest needs in the Czech Republic for those who have lived there for the last 15 years or so (or visited and had different impressions)?

    I was thinking of something to do with adoption, but I know Russia and many of the other countries in Asia seem to have dire needs in this area as well.

    As a teacher and ex non-profit program director and AmeriCorps members, I think of working with high school and middle school students. I had a program called Youth Volunteer Corps (www.yvca.org) that would be neat to implement...if it's possible.

    One of the reasons I couldn't do it in Colombia, South America last year (while I was teaching) was due to the very black and white demarcation between stratos or classes there. Parents of the rich kids in my school would never allow them to volunteer or associate with the poorer kids. That was one of the primary goals of my program in Kansas City, to bring together kids from different schools (suburbs, rich, poor, inner-city, Catholic, private, home-schooled, etc.) to work on projects that addressed community needs.

    Is CR similar? Do kids have mandatory community service or volunteer hours? Do churches and the govn't solve most of the problems, or is it more of a "everyone just has to take care of themselves" type of country?

    I also thought about DV shelters, because they don't exist in Russia or Colombia and there is a LOT of abuse of women in both of those countries. The church and police tend to look the other way. I'm not talking this huge deal, just maybe renting a house or something like that and trying to figure out some way to help without "being the intrusive, all-knowing, out to save the world American."

    What do the kids struggle with?

    After-school activities/latch-key kids
    Unemployment (training, computers, access to computers)
    Medical care
    Access to capital/loans for school or small businesses (lots of interesting microloan programs out there)
    Teen Pregnancy
    Alcoholism (huge problem in Russia)

    You can e-mail me at jewisler@yahoo.com if you're not on this forum.

    Any thoughts?
  2. amraam_7

    amraam_7 Well-Known Member

    imo, if you really want to help, do it somplece where it's needed. you can "adopt" a child in india and pay for his/her education or whatever. compared to the 3rd world, Czech Republic has only minor problems and is capable of handling them
  3. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    Living in the US, there are a TON of problems.

    So there have to be some issues...I lived in Colombia for a year, and the Czech Republic is exactly in the middle between Colombia and the US in GDP, per capita income, etc.

    Especially in the cities outside of Prague.
  4. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I think best way is contact some of Czech foundations like Nase dite ( http://www.nasedite.cz/webmagazine/home.asp?idk=247 ) or Clovek v tisni ( http://www.clovekvtisni.cz/indexen.php ) - they can give you detailed information.

    But I strongly recommend learn something about Czech republic before ( minimally on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_republic ), for example - 60% Czech citizens are no-believers, so church position in society is different then in USA etc..

    But, if you really want to come here and help (frankly, I believe that crime, gang, violence etc problems are much worse in USA then in CR) language barrier will be your first problem.
  5. Rommie

    Rommie Well-Known Member

    If you want to know something special about social issues in Czech you can PM me, I´m social worker so I can at least show you the way and recommend something :wink:
  6. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    I understand, there are some things that are more universal, like Habit for Humanity (building houses) or teaching mathematics or physics.

    I want to work, it's just that I am looking for things to do to make my experience more fulfilling.

    Every culture is different, and I have probably until next June to learn.

    For instance, I really like dogs, but I am not sure what the situation there is with animal shelters, for instance.

    My ex is from Russia, and Domestic Violence shelters are non-existent there. Just trying to learn as much as possible, as someone noted, before arriving.

    Obviously, you learn 90% from being there and speaking with people...and I'm limited in that area as I don't speak Czech, so what I heard would be biased by "tourists" or people who are more cosmopolitan vis a vis people who have lived in villages or outside of Praha in the 70's, 80's in the transition period.
  7. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member


    If you decide to come to live in Ostrava and find a 'cause' to take up..... pls tell me. I would love to lend a helping hand. As I see it there are no NGOs listed in Ostrava ....... everyone is in Prague...... :roll:

  8. Rommie

    Rommie Well-Known Member

    You tell me, JayBee!
    Our beautiful poor Ostrava :lol:
  9. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    Hi there....

    Since my last post to this thread I have been thinking about how to help people.......... and having spoken to some local people I find that there is very little people do if they dont have a job.....they just sit and wait...

    I think it would be great to motivate and help people to put up their own small businesses, specially women, with the govt./infrastructure/financial facilities avaiable. For example, drycleaning and launderette services, tailoring services, good creches etc. As a foreigner who neither speaks nor understands Czech its difficult for me to go about organising such help....... but I am sure there will be some people atleast who will be grateful for a little help in the right direction.....

    Hope someone out there thinks I am thinking right.....

    Jaybee :)
  10. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    In the simplest form, what you are talking about is a "micro-loan" program like the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh that would provide small loans (around $500) for people to get small businesses started...in Bangladesh, almost all of the money goes to women.

    By the way, Dr. Yunus, the main originator of this idea, was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a couple of weeks ago.
  11. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Idea is great, but requirements for bank licence are very strict ( for example: The minimum amount of basic capital representing a condition for being granted a license for operating as a bank is CZK 500.000.000 ).

    And $500 is 11 000 Kč, what really isn't enough for small bussines. Rather $5000 or more...

    I think legal and accounting help with bureaucracy maybe suit better.
  12. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    So they don't have, what are essentially non-profits chartered as a separate category in CR? How is there is a distinction between for-profit, non-profit and churches made?
  13. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Do you think banks?

    I admit, I'm not sure. I now, that loans can by offered by banks, loan companies and "družstevní záložny" .

    I will try to find out more.
  14. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    I think that social micro loans like that ones in Bangladesh are no option in CZ. There is lot of loan companies here which do not hesitate to lend such amount of money to anybody who show them two ID cards. Additionaly to it 20% interest rate of such micro loans is to high for CZ.

    If you wish start business in CZ and you need money for it then banks will be very glad to hear about it. (My bank does not hesitate to phone me several times a year just to say me they further simplified paperwork regarding loans. Last time they babbled something about 1.000.000 CZK ($50.000) loan available in one day for which they want me only to signate papers.)

    Czechs still borrow less money then people in other countries. Banks and loan companies want change it so loans are easily available.

    On the contrary I read article about impoverished people in Ostrava who end in loan trap because of these micro loans and so called best offers:www.aktualne.cz. These people thought it is easy to borrow money, get mobile phone for only CZK 1,- etc. Now they owe more money then they are able to repay.

    If you wish to help then maybe www pages of Clovek v tisni (Man in distress, in English they use name: Pepole in Need) are good start. This organization also runs social programs in CZ.
  15. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    The interest rate they charge is nowhere near 20%. I think it is fixed to a couple of points higher than the inflation rate...in the US, it would be around 4-5%.

    Most loans in the US for houses and cars are in the 5-10% range. 20% is incredibly high....near the top of the range of what credit card companies are allowed to charge, which is around 22%. Anything higher than that is considered usury (commonly known as "loan sharking") and is illegal, as the victims of this are nearly always poor and desperate.
  16. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    Yes, Thats what I meant......... but the loan amount has to match the needs of the people and place.Do you think this is a possibility? Although I realise enterprenuership has to be within a person..... but in micro scale I suppose it can be awakened...........Of course it needs a lot of help from Government and from other related organisations. This external help can be mobilised....... After all setting up a business is a lot more than just getting a financial loan.......

    I did not have the Bangladesh model in mind when i suggested this, but yes I can see the similiarity. I am aware of Mr. Yunus' getting the Nobel peace prize... its much discussed in the many forums that I visit and also in India.

    Interestingly in India a whole lot of people from every strata of society try to do something on their own...... people from every walk of life leave jobs (even fat checked ones) to branch out on thier own .... and that is why we are growing so fast.... :D

  17. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    The most important concept with small businesses, of course, is teaching the individuals how to organize themselves, pay taxes, register, marketing, public relations, sales, customer relations...price, product, place, promotion (the four P's).

    The way that Grameen Bank works, there are 5 individuals in a "loan group" and the other three need to wait until the first two with loans have paid their loans off. Not only that, but, in many variations, they actually have to pay small amounts of their loans off everyday to establish the idea of responsibility and accountability.

    But you can't just throw money at any program (or person, or business) without having the training and systems in place to support it...just like you can't raise students' test scores without a strategy. Just saying, "we need to raise test scores" is not a strategy.
  18. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    Yes, you are right. But I always think that the best way to help people is to strengthen their earning capacity......... and once money is flowing into the family people regenerate themselves.

    The other thing of course is education. But I realise both these need a strong backing from the Czech Government......perhaps you can start an NGO which will make the Govt to sit up and take notice of these issues ...............

    Btw, have you decided where you are going to live in Czech?
  19. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    And what about free English courses to improve people's position on job market (with cooperation with local employment office)?

    Maybe this is good role for native speaker?
  20. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    I give free lessons to some people here since i dont have a work permit...... and believe me.......they dont value it........They are irregular in class and very seldom complete their home work, which I take a lot of pains to prepare.........lolololol

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