Meet Your Founders
Two of us founded Arm-In-Arm Volunteers.
Who is “us”? One of us is Narcisz Magyara, a Hungarian-Canadian, who is not new to the volunteering concept. She’s been volunteering for the deaf, blind, and the elderly in several countries ever since childhood through her passion for music. She also has great people skills and administrative skills. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Music degree from University of Victoria, and a Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate from Concordia University. She also managed to squeeze in a year of exchange program at Universität Karlsruhe in Germany. The other one of “us” is Ato K. Sackey, a Ghanaian-Canadian, who is also not new to making a difference in his community. He gained extensive leadership and management experience through running a non-profit organization called Ghana Kind Voluntary Movement and played active roles in coalitions of NGOs in education and health in Ghana a few years ago. He is very familiar with the process of volunteer placements and hosting volunteers.
How AIAV Was Born
We, the founders, met through our travels in South Korea and fell in love. Small world, eh? Even though we ended up settling in Canada to start a family, we never lost touch with our home countries and other countries we have experienced throughout our travels. For some time, we have been asked by friends in developing countries to promote their grassroots sustainable projects for international volunteers’ assistance. At last, we find ourselves in a position where we are able to put our experiences, skills, and resources together and assist them and others in making their communities better places.
The Thought Process Behind It All
Through years of experience in the field, we learned that there are some well-sponsored organizations, such as the United Nations and Peace Corps that offer free volunteer placements. We also learned that the majority of volunteer abroad programs cannot be completely free; the communities requiring assistance simply do not have the means to care for volunteers on their own.
Unfortunately, one thing we saw repeatedly was that potential volunteers are being asked to pay outrageous fees for the privilege of sacrificing their valuable time, energy, and skills; as well, there is a lack of adequate services for those fees.
These discoveries made it clear why a lot of people are hesitant to go abroad to volunteer through placement organizations and presented us with the challenge of how to meet the need for volunteering abroad while keeping costs to both the volunteers and our organization realistic.
This motivated us to create Arm-In-Arm Volunteers (AIAV), a Canada-based international non-profit organization, that conducts volunteer placements in Africa and Asia.
What AIAV Is About
We have adopted responsible and ethical volunteering principles, making sure all stakeholders involved are thinking about and taking responsibility for their actions, while ensuring a meaningful, safe, and effective experience for our volunteers and the communities that we serve.
To make this work effectively, we have partnered with carefully selected local organizations with proven track records. These organizations understand the real needs of their communities and what is essential for them. We work together to identify and select sustainable projects needing assistance. We then promote these projects and facilitate international volunteers’ participation. All of our projects are evaluated periodically to measure the impact they are making in the communities. Our volunteers get to work alongside with locals for an opportunity to share ideas, experiences, have fun, and deepen cross cultural understanding.
We believe that this way we are able to assure the safety of our volunteers, address the real needs of the communities, and contribute greatly into the local economies.
Today, AIAV operates in some rural areas and towns in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda. We are also working tirelessly to reach out to different communities in other parts of the developing world that truly need volunteers’ assistance.