Volunteering in CZ...biggest social issues?

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

  1. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Ad government - I believe, that best way is through local authority offices.

    And if we talk about Ostrava, caulfield2 can be interested in story of Kumar Vishwanathan:
  2. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with this, things that are "given" for free are not valued or respected as much, and I say this from the perspective of someone who never thought you should charge for "non-profit services."

    My feeling now is that if you charge a legitimate but discounted fee, you're much better off, even for soup kitchens and homeless shelters (something like $1-2 dollars per night). First of all, you have gained some money to keep the enterprise going...and you can ask funders more easily for money to do something if you're not requesting they fund ALL of the project.

    From having taught at a university last year, there were some students who were very dedicated and came to almost every class, about 50% who came as much as possible but looked at English as "something nice to have but something that wouldn't pay off in the short-term" and then 25% who almost never came, got F's but still paid the school their tuition (well, usually, it was the parents that paid).

    Since it's a second language for many, it's not treated QUITE as seriously, like students in the US treat Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, etc. Of course, you could argue that the world's current business/economic language is English, so it might be MORE important, at least until/before Chinese or Indian becomes more important!

    Just look at giving something away for free like you would tickets for the local hockey or soccer club....if you gave tickets away for free for 5-10 years and then wanted to start charging, it would be very difficult. People would have the mindset that it didn't matter (to them) if they went or not...because they weren't "losing" anything. OTOH, if you're paying (or your parents) for something, there's more of a responsibility or accountability. Same thing with public versus private schools...public education is NOT valued, even though parents pay (whether they know it or not) through property taxes on their houses or through higher rents, with the landlords paying the property taxes.
  3. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    I just read the story about Kumar Vishwanathan...it reminded me a lot of what Habitat for Humanity does all around the world, with one key exception.

    The biggest strength of this leader seems to be his patience and his ability to build bridges to get people from two opposing side (roma/non-roma) to trust each other and live together in harmony. In the US, it would be starting a "village" in the south with White and Black people. This almost never happens, because people are uncomfortable with different ethnic groups and want to segregate themselves...they say it is for "better schools" or "more safety" or "higher property values" because it's not politically-correct to say they don't want to live near non-white people.

    That doesn't mean it doesn't happen...but, usually, whites and blacks live together because they are tied to their homes or apartments socio-economically. They don't have a choice or option but to live in the poorest area of the city, because they don't have jobs or their jobs will not pay them enough to live in a nicer area.

    With 50% unemployment, that has to be an issue. With Habitat for Humanity, when a house is built, the person that receives the house has to put in their own labor (sweat equity) and they have to pay the entire amount of the house back (they must have a job) but pay NO interest. That's the biggest difference.

    Here's another article...
    http://www.time.com/time/europe/special ... athan.html
  4. Rommie

    Rommie Well-Known Member

    Don´t get me wrong JayBee... i think it´s awesome idea, but it can´t work. Practically - go into bussiness it´s like to ask for a nervous breakdown! It´s too much paperwork, offices .. and then our state do not support self-employed ... Believe me, I know what I´m talking about :wink:

    But thanks for the idea - whole discussion about this topic is really interesting. I enjoyed your suggestions , people 8)
  5. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I agree. I pay only $13 a lesson for my czech lessons. However, that comes to $52 a month. When I don't feel like studying and just "winging it" through the lesson, I think of the money I've put into it and the longer it takes me the learn, the more money I will spend and that inspires me to try harder.
  6. Rommie

    Rommie Well-Known Member

    heh, you should see how much my frined paid for her english classes 8) But I don´t know why ... somehow she´s not inspired at all! (maybe cause it was her parent´s money, hehe :wink: ).
    And then I would love to take english lessons, but have no money to pay for that (sigh) .. :roll:
  7. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member


    Self employment is not necessarily a big enterprise. There are so many things one can do at home....... e.g. if someone wants to iron clothes he/she can get ppl to drop them to his/her house and then pick them up again, only (s)he chrages less than a regular laundry. A person can start a tailoring/alteration business ...... tie up with a shop counter for delivery and collection, take orders on phone from people for groceries, buy them from Malls and deliver etc etc......... there are endless possibilities.......

    And caulfield2....... what about help for the elderly..... that is something that is needed worldwide..........
  8. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, question how big market exists for these services.

    - iron clothes, grocery delivery etc..

    How many people in Ostrava are willing pay for this services?
    Do you?
  9. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    In CZ is many people who have its own "živnostenský list" (trade licence). Most of them actually do not use it or use it as second employment (in this case self employment). Teaching people how to make money also would not be considered "social work".

    Do not forget that CZ is "social state". The state provides anybody who ask for it with social payments. When somebody live all his/her life on social payments then he/she will be not able to keep any job. They know well that state must care about them. They also know that if they want more money then easiest way is to stole something or just have another child. Why to work then?

    Best solution is to teach them that there is only one way how to live better - make money on his own, either have job or own business.
  10. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    Which was essentially the decision President Clinton made in the US with welfare, to "mend it, not end it." At that time, there was a 2 1/2 year limit placed on welfare payments.

    Of course, we still have Food Stamps, WIC (help for Women, Infants and Children), free health care for kids (CHIPS program), Medicare/Medicaid...but there are many women (usually single mothers) working 2-3 jobs and making the same they were making on welfare, because they have to pay for child care, transportation, etc.

    The problem is that these children aren't receiving the attention they need, which is leading to another generation of poverty/underclass in the US.

    If every job paid at least $10 per hour (what most accept as the bottom or floor for the minimum wage in the US), then a person could work 40 hours per week and make $20,000, which theoretically would be enough to keep them going but wouldn't allow any savings at all.

    Unfortunately, there are many having to work 60-70 hours per week to make $20,000.

    I know that doesn't sound like a horribly low amount of money, but when you figure in raising kids, insurance (health, car, house/property), taxes, phone, gas (especially in winter), water, electricity, car payments, rent...it's difficult to get ahead and go to college (to get a better job) and take care of a child AND work simultaneously, not without any assistance from the government or family members.

    Not having a job has horrible consequences with the self-esteem and self-worth of the unemployed...even though some get "addicted" to government money and I agree, in theory, with social safeguards (better to teach how to fish than to give someone fish)...the best thing is to have a job that allows one to save a little money, to become more optimistic about life and the future, especially when one has children.
  11. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    Oops! it seems my ideas for self-employment is not kindly taken.... well... thats all I had to suggest....... Indian people get no Social Benefits from Govt.... we have to survive.... mebbe thats why we are enterprising...lol

    Anyways....thanks for all your opinions......my time has come to bow out of this thread........

    Best of luck to all Czech people who I can see would rather be unemployed/underemployed than be self-employed.......

    Btw, I strongly believe that mothers should take care of their children .... that is their first and only duty........ mankind will be poorer in physical and emotional health if they are not nutured with Mother's love, affection and guidance......

  12. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    Which was essentially the decision President Clinton made in the US with welfare, to "mend it, not end it." At that time, there was a 2 1/2 year limit placed on welfare payments.
    In CZ is no limit. :?: :!:

    Of course, we still have Food Stamps, WIC (help for Women, Infants and Children), free health care for kids (CHIPS program), Medicare/Medicaid...but there are many women (usually single mothers) working 2-3 jobs and making the same they were making on welfare, because they have to pay for child care, transportation, etc.

    Food stamps - it is considered to be against human dignity in CZ. Free healtcare for childern - it is standard here, State pays for healtcare insurance for every child. Single mothers - same here. Single mothers and elders are main part of people below poverty line. 2-3 jobs: It is unusual here to have 2 or more part time jobs. On the contrary many people have one full time job and another part-time job or "part-time" home business.

    I think help for single mothers is another option for starting social work in CZ. They are not really poor but most of them are under poverty line and they will appreciate any help.
  13. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I agree. Unfortunately in Czech exist social groups, where living from social welfare going on for several generations in whole families. Many of them are Romanies.

    Any party, which would oppose too vigorously against social welfare has zero chance to win election.
  14. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    I very appreciate all your inputs! Please understand: If somebody have only 2 options: find job or starve to death than he/she will be very active in looking for either employment or self-employment. Especialy when he/she must support his/her family. I exaggerated it but generally it is the heart of the matter.

    I worry most of these people are not Czechs.
  15. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I don't know how far you are from Budjovice but my mother-in-law takes weekly English lessons from a retired teacher. He only charges (well I don't remember in crowns) about $1.50 a lesson. Let me know if you want me to find out more info, if you live close enough.
  16. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    I can only wish you luck with that.

    I know the situation in Praha and Brno is perhaps better than other cities and villlages.

    The reality is that communism's great strength was the universal health care and university system...at least from my observations in Russia. However, as the privatization occurred, scholarships were less based on "merit" and ability than who you knew or who you were connected to that could help you out. Bribes became commonplace....

    The other problem was the high taxes and lack of incentive for many to work hard. The system collapsed, partly because of flaws, but mostly due to flawed leaders.

    When Russia had to devalue its currency twice and they gave away 50% of the country to about 15 oligarchs (mostly in the oil industry), Russia's fate was sealed for the next two generations.

    Plus, you have the uneasy truce between the mafia, the oligarchs and Putin's regime, with all of them competing against each other for dominance and none wanting to give a centimeter if it benefits someone ELSE.
  17. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    I read recently an article about small businesses in EU. It states that CZ is on the top of EU countries in number of small businesses. We have only one billionair. The income curve is very flat in CZ. So oligarchs are not our problem.

    State finaces are currently colapsing. (I again exaggerate). In fact it just turned out that CZ will be very probably unable to comply with € requirement till 2010.
    Because of .........
    huge social welfare.
  18. JayBee

    JayBee Active Member

    My last post....... Caulfield2 where are u now? In CZ or US?
  19. caulfield2

    caulfield2 Well-Known Member

    Well, I just made my reservations on Delta.

    I am going to arrive in Prague on the 22nd of December in the morning and will be leaving on the 2nd of January in the morning.

    Would love to hear any advice about places I DEFINITELY need to see. Any amateur tour guides that can help with advice on transportation and hotels/motels (especially in your areas), I would greatly appreciate that as well. You can PM me if you'd like.

    I would definitely like to visit Ostrava, Olomouc and Brno (possibly Zlin) after I leave the city of Prague itself.
  20. JJJ

    JJJ Member


    I have an utmost respect for the American tradition of volunteering. I have also no doubt your intentions are truly good and meant honestly.

    But, frankly, you should perhaps look for a destination that is really in need of some external help. You seem to be completely misinformed about the situation in the Czech Republic - it is no Subsaharan African hell hole, but instead a relatively wealthy EU member state (as of 2005 richer than Portugal, for example).

    I, of course, agree with you that help is needed everywhere, no matter how weathly the society is. But most of the topics discussed in this thread, especially those between you and JayBee, are completely misplaced and inappropriate.

    The Czech Republic is a very egalitaran welfare state. There are loads of social benefits available, free education, free healthcare. The problem now is rather contrary - the Czech welfare system needs to be profoundly reformed, i.e. dismantled because it's very expensive and it demotivates many people, who take the benefits, from trying harder.

    As for other problems you mention: there is little public violence here and no gangs. No shooting at school. Violent crime is MUCH more serious in the US than in the Czech Republic. Alcoholism here is not a big problem either (the situation is more serious in Britain, Finland or Sweden, for example).

    An area where your help could perhaps be beneficial is the Gypsy community. But, honestly, I don't believe you can realy contribute here in practice as you speak neither Czech nor Roma and you know nothing about the issue and its context. It would take you years to start understanding how the Roma community works, what is its structure and what are their values and customs and how to help them.

    PS: Of course, there is a lot to do here (as anywhere) when it comes to volunteering. But these are areas where foreigners can hardly play any sensible role. For example, some of my friends help renovating countryside baroque chapels in Eastern Bohemia. I am a boy-scout leader. My wife helps running the local social club for mothers who stay at home with their children.

    PPS: Interest rates on mortgages and standard commercial loans are currently between 3 and 10 per cent in the Czech Republic.

    PPPS: Living in Czech "villages" (which you often mention) is not much "worse" than living in Prague. One of the biggest differences is that, unlike in Prague or Brno, in the villages there are no Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada or Hugo Boss shops.

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