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.
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.
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.
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. We are also working tirelessly to reach out to different communities in other parts of the developing world that truly need volunteers’ assistance.
Our mission is to encourage more and more people in the world to volunteer their knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes in deprived communities in support of peace and development.
Our vision is to become a leading international non-profit organization that provides meaningful and safe volunteering experiences that impact and inspire people and communities.
• Ethically promote grassroots sustainable projects.
• Offer projects that have achievable goals and a direct impact on the people and the communities.
• Provide safe and conducive opportunities that allow volunteers to live and work side by side with their local counterparts assisting communities that are in dire need of support.
• Ensure meaningful, safe, and effective international volunteering at reasonable and realistic rates.
• Foster intercultural exchanges that increase awareness, understanding, and respect for everyone’s ways of life.
Our volunteering abroad opportunities are based on the following core principles:
We believe local people understand and know the real needs of their communities. We, therefore, select and collaborate with local organizations or institutions with satisfactory background, proven track record, fair and transparent account and management. We work closely together with the local teams to identify and screen inspiring projects that truly require volunteers’ assistance, and who supervise, monitor, and provide constant support to ensure that our volunteering opportunities are safe, effective, and meaningful.
Responsible volunteering policies:
AIAV considers the protection of children, vulnerable adults, and volunteers a priority. In order to ensure that everyone involved in our programs is aware of, thinking about, and responsible for their actions, AIAV has a set of policies to bring to everyone’s attention. You can read the Responsible Volunteering Policy by clicking the tab above.
Safety and security:
Our top priorities are safety and security. We only work and place volunteers in countries and communities that are politically stable and are free from ethnic conflicts. We have collaborating offices with coordinators in place in every country where we operate to provide assistance, monitor and react to all issues on the ground. In addition, volunteers receive 24/7 in-country support and proper orientation covering health, safety, cheaper and safe travelling advice, everyday local language training, etc.
Monitoring and evaluation:
AIAV collects feedback from everyone involved in the programs. This feedback then gets analyzed to learn how we are doing, focusing on quality, efficiency, safety, and impact. We are then able to make adjustments to improve our programs and services on a regular basis.
Even though AIAV is aware that volunteering abroad cannot be totally free, it believes fees should not be outrageous either for the privilege of sacrificed time, skills, and resources while helping others. When you volunteer through AIAV, you can be sure that you’re paying a fee that is as close as possible to what it would cost for you to travel without aid. AIAV has been able to strategize to keep things real, thereby removing unreasonable charges, keeping operational costs low, and ensuring very affordable fees based on the local economies without compromising on superior services and quality programs. AIAV’s fees have been structured as follows:
I. Registration fee – $165
AIAV is a non-profit organization, and at the moment does not have a sponsor to absorb its operational costs. In order for it to continue providing its services and spread its wings, you’re required to pay a registration fee which will help with:
– Maintaining a secure and informative website.
– Pre-departure and general support until the completion of your program.
– Project visits.
– Overall quality control.
– Paying stipends.
– Administrative work.
– $20 set aside as contribution into the AIAV Endowment Fund. The AIAV Endowment Fund is created to timely support our projects abroad, and provide scholarships and awards to support, highlight, and encourage the efforts of our volunteers.
II. Program fee
The program fee is paid directly to our in-country team. Since the locals seeking volunteers’ assistance simply do not have the means to care for the volunteers, you’re required to pay a program fee to cover:
– Airport pickup and drop-off.
– Some donation into the project.
– 3 meals daily.
– Administrative costs.
– Visitations and calls (checkups).
– 24/7 in-country support.
The following are policies regarding responsible volunteering that apply to all stakeholders.
AIAV Code of Conduct to the Community:
• Ensure the projects are credible, safe, and improve the socio-economic status of individuals and the communities.
• Contribute to the local economy by hiring locals, using local accommodations, and encouraging buying local produce and products.
• Make sure the projects are sustainable, avoiding dependency by the host communities.
• Make financial donations into projects.
• Monitor and evaluate all AIAV programs thoroughly.
• Use a fair and transparent approach in all of AIAV’s dealings.
• Ensure fees charged are realistic, reasonable, and are used effectively for their purposes.
• Continue to better AIAV’s programs through abundant research, and train accordingly to meet the challenges of current conditions.
AIAV Code of Conduct to the Volunteers:
• Make sure volunteers experience an opportunity of a lifetime.
• Provide all needed resources and support throughout the recruitment stages until the completion of the program.
• Give factual and transparent information to prospective volunteers about AIAV’s services and all its programs.
• Ensure that all stakeholders are adequately informed and prepared to understand and respect each other’s ways of life.
• Ensure volunteers are placed on programs that actually need their support.
• Ensure an appropriate number of volunteers are selected and placed on a project.
• See to it that the volunteers respect and adhere to our Child Protection Policy.
• Work in partnership with registered non-profit organizations and institutions to meet the needs of volunteers.
• Make sure volunteers work side by side with, not for or instead of, the local staff.
• Highlight volunteers’ efforts, ideas, and contributions fully.
• Act upon feedback from volunteers holistically to better our services and programs.
AIAV Volunteer Code of Conduct:
• Provide proof of age (copy of passport).
• Provide an original or certified copy of a recent criminal background check (less than 1 year old), since most projects involve dealing with minors.
• Provide an original or certified copy of required qualifications (medical degree or transcript).
• Work in collaboration with local staff on their projects.
• Be enthusiastic, professional, open-minded, and ready to learn and adapt by respecting and understanding the local traditions, customs, and dress code.
• Avoid unnecessary provocative language or actions that might cause harm to themselves or others.
• Be ready to “work” approximately 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, with the weekends off. (You’ll receive specifics about your hours worked per day before your departure.)
• Be expected to adhere to job roles; yet, it is vital to be flexible to adjust to any changes in itinerary or job roles where necessary.
• Be mindful of personal health and safety.
• Help out with domestic chores and cleaning at the place where their food and accommodation is provided.
• Be prepared to be the only volunteer on the project. On the other hand, there might be several volunteers assigned per project, depending on the project’s size. In cases of multiple volunteers on 1 project, volunteers might have to share a room with 1 or more other volunteers. (Expect specifics regarding this before your departure.)
• De-brief their experience with their in-country coordinators before leaving the country, then fill out an online survey for AIAV after returning home. This will be greatly beneficial in terms of making positive changes where necessary.
Code of Conduct of the Community:
The community will:
• Make certain volunteers are safe throughout their stay.
• Ensure the projects greatly benefit the people and the community.
• Provide some resources (e.g. land or labor) to help support developmental goals where necessary.
• Ensure the projects are sustainable even when the volunteers are gone.
• Exchange the right kind of culture and traditions.
Safety and Security:
AIAV considers safety and security very important. As a result, the following measures have been put in place to make sure you have peace of mind while making a difference and, therefore, have an enjoyable experience.
• AIAV does not operate in a country that is politically unstable or in a community where there is intense ethnic conflict that could put you in danger while helping.
• We strongly encourage you to register with your embassy before you travel or as soon as you arrive in your destination country. This way, it will be easier for the in-country coordinator to liaise with your embassy to assist you in case there is sudden unrest or natural disasters that require your evacuation.
• Through pre-screening, AIAV ensures that your host family and project site are a safe place for you to be.
• The in-country coordinators are available at all times to assist you in terms of sickness or any unforeseen circumstances that need immediate attention.
• Our Pre-Departure Information and Orientation booklets will give you more safety tips.
Even though AIAV is aware that volunteering abroad cannot be totally free, it believes fees should not be outrageous either for the privilege of sacrificed time, skills, and resources while helping others. When you volunteer through AIAV, you can be sure that you’re paying a fee that is as close as possible to what it would cost for you to travel without aid. AIAV has been able to strategize to keep things real, thereby removing unreasonable charges, keeping operational costs low, and ensuring very affordable fees based on the local economies without compromising on superior services and quality programs.
AIAV will provide you full support right from registration preparing you for your journey. You will as well receive constant support while abroad until your return home. Our dedicated in-country teams are also readily available to welcome and supervise you and see to your well being to ensure a safe and meaningful experience.
We are able to find a placement to meet your request/s. If you have a particular program in mind, but it is not on our website, let us know! Contact us and we will try our best to accommodate your project proposal.
Team AIAV is very understanding and is able to place you on a different project other than what you originally chose when there is a need. You are also not restricted to any time frame once your registration and project fees have been paid. This means once the fees have been paid, they are valid until your volunteering experience is completed. We also allow lots of free time, including occasional long weekends, for you to have more time to travel around.
Arm-In-Arm Volunteers is a registered non-profit organization located in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Our corporation number is 870551-8. You may contact Revenue Canada for verification at any time. Feel free to call us, should you have any further questions regarding our legitimacy.