Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year Brings Challenges and Change

Snowy Prague, with Charles Bridge and Swans

Hi Everyone,January's been a very busy month for me here, in Prague.  The New Year started off with being sick and falling up the steps from the Metro.  You read that right--I fell up the steps.  This happened the night before New Year's.  I managed to end up with bruises from my left knee to where my boot top ended on the shin of my left leg, and a wrenched back and right wrist.  It was very painful, but I didn't let this stop me from celebrating New Year's with our Czech friends.  We had a great celebration with them--lots of great food, talk and fireworks.

After that, while still recovering from my fall up the Metro steps, I sat down (very gingerly) and organized my daily schedule.  I've started writing at some different sites, in addition to this blog, and so found it necessary to set up a writing schedule.  Once this was in place, I began writing.  The writing schedule has been a great help in keeping on track and writing regularly at each site where I've begun to write.  

One of the new sites I'm writing for is BellaOnline's Asthma site.  I became their Asthma site editor back in November 2010, and am enjoying the training process and people I'm meeting there.  I'm still in training there, but am moving forward.  Another site I began writing for is  This is site is meant to be the home for all my online work.  Right now there's not much on the site, but I'm adding on a regular basis.  So, with these sites and a couple of others, I'm staying pretty busy.

Updates for the Czech Republic

Austerity Package and Rising Prices 

The New Year has brought some challenges for the Czech Republic.  The new government has been working on an austerity package, and this has directly affected Jiri and I in a big way.  The Czech austerity package, like many adopted by E.U. states, is being put in place in order to help bring state costs down, and pay off the deficit from past years.  One of the main parts of this package has directly hit many Czechs' salaries with a significant reduction.  Jiri's salary has been hit by this reduction, too.  Along with the salary decreases, we are seeing a rise in the price of food, electricity, water and benzene.  As a result, many people are trying to cut back on expenses while finding alternative ways to earn extra income.

Health Care

Along with the austerity package, the country may be losing up to one quarter of all hospital doctors in the Czech Republic.  The doctors say they have lower salaries compared to doctors’ salaries in other parts of the E.U.  This is true.  The average salary for hospital doctors in the Czech Republic, in 2009, was $2,412.71 a month.  German doctors, in 2009, averaged $9,674.57 a month.  There is definitely some disparity.  The Czech Medical Chamber has organized doctors into a campaign called, “Thanks We are Leaving.”  Doctors supporting this campaign have all given notice they will be handing in their resignations as of February 28th.  Losing one quarter of the hospital doctors will be a hard blow for the Czech Republic, and will cause a health care emergency.  The government is trying to find ways to appease the doctors and raise the necessary funds that would increase doctor’s salaries.  It will be interesting to see how it works out.  The government, at present, is unsure of how to reorganize the health care sector if doctors do, indeed, leave.

New American Ambassador

The U.S. finally has a new ambassador here at the Prague embassy.  We haven’t had an American ambassador here since President Obama came to office.  Our new ambassador is Norman Eisen, a prominent supporter of Obama during the presidential elections, who is known as the “ethics czar.”  Eisen, and his family, have moved to Prague and are settling in.  Ambassador Eisen will take up his job officially on January 28th when he presents his credentials to President Klaus.  It’s nice to know we finally have an ambassador here to represent the U.S. 

As you can see, this year is shaping up to be a busy one for me, personally, as well as a challenging year for the Czech Republic.  It will be a tough and challenging year, but you have to face Life issues with courage and flexibility in order to keep moving forward and to continue growing.  If we let them, challenges can help us grow.  Better to let challenges help us grow, rather than forcing us to grow.  I’m hoping that the Czech Republic and I will have a great year of growth in 2011. 

That’s all for now.  Have a great day.

God bless,
Sher :0) 

Photo credit:  Sher Vacik

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Karen said...

Wow, so sorry to hear about the austerity package. America's will probably be even bigger since there doesn't seem to be the will to deal with it. Good lesson for the USA.

Sher said...

@Karen: We'll be OK. We're going to be OK. It's a challenge many in Europe are facing. It's important to face the challenge, which is what we're doing. We're looking for more ways to cut spending and to earn more.

It's possible the US will also be facing a tough austerity package. But we'll all make it through!

Have a great day,
Sher :0) said...

Hi Sher,

It is so ridiculous that there has been no American ambassador here in Prague for two years. What message does that send to a fellow member of NATO? Of course, part of the problem is that most US ambassadors are political appointees rather than career diplomats.

When there was a change of British ambassadors in the middle of 2009 there was a gap of about 3 weeks. And when there was a change of government in the UK in May 2010, there wasn't a change of ambassador at all!

Sher said... Yes, it's been amazing to not have an ambassador for the past couple of years! Politics gets involved in the appointing process, unfortunately.

The process Brits have seems like it would make more sense!

Have a great day,

Anonymous said...

Hello Sher. I like your blog, it is very nice! I wish you good luck!:)
Opravdu velmi pěkný blog. :) A píšeš dobré články! Hodně štěstí do budoucna.:)