About Us

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.

Mission

Mission Statement

 

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.

 

Vision

 

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.

 

Our aims and objectives are to:

 

• 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.





Approach

AIAV’s Approach

 

Our volunteering abroad opportunities are based on the following core principles:

 

Locals’ involvement

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.

Realistic fees

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:

    1. Maintaining a secure and informative website.
    2. Keeping up a membership site to allow you to raise funds for free.
    3. Advertising.
    4. Pre-departure and general support until the completion of your program.
    5. Project visits.
    6. Overall quality control.
    7. Paying stipends.
    8. Administrative work.
    9. $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:

    1. Airport pickup and drop-off.
    2. Some donation into the project.
    3. Accommodation.
    4. 3 meals daily.
    5. Stipends.
    6. Administrative costs.
    7. Visitations and calls (checkups).
    8. 24/7 in-country support.
    9. Orientation.

 

AIAV’s Fundraising Platform

AIAV created a free crowd-funding platform for its volunteers to reduce their financial burden to be able to go and help abroad. In fact, we don’t take any percentage of your raised funds. Our only role in your fundraising adventure is offering you support to set things up properly. This easy-to-use program helps you create a campaign that can be shared through various social media, thereby letting friends, family and the world know about your course to gain support.

* You only have access to this platform once your placement has been confirmed and you’ve paid the registration fee.





Responsible Volunteering

Responsible Volunteering Policy

 

The following are policies regarding responsible volunteering that apply to all stakeholders.

 

AIAV Code of Conduct to the Community

 

AIAV will:

• 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

 

AIAV will:

• 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

 

Volunteers will:

• 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.





Why us?

Why AIAV?

 

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.

 

Low Fees

 

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.

 

Support

 

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.

 

Free Fundraising Aid

 

AIAV created a free crowd-funding platform for its volunteers to reduce their financial burden to be able to go and help abroad. In fact, we don’t take any percentage of your raised funds. Our only role in your fundraising adventure is offering you support to set things up properly. This easy-to-use program helps you create a campaign that can be shared through various social media, thereby letting friends, family and the world know about your course to gain support.

* You only have access to this platform once your placement has been confirmed and you’ve paid the registration fee.

 

Tailored Programs

 

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.

 

Flexibility

 

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.

 

Legitimacy

 

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.





Team

Meet AIAV’s Coordinator in Ghana: Seth

 

Seth, founder of an orphanage home, holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Education, Winneba, and he’s an elder of a church as well.

When he was first posted to Bonsuoku as a teacher in 1999, he immediately saw the need to do more than teaching to help the community. He, therefore, joined hands with a group of like-minded teachers, gave public education on many social vices, and helped a lot of needy, but brilliant, students get into nursing, accounting, and teaching schools with scholarships.

With his persistent effort and passion for helping others, he’s been able to work tirelessly with both local and international volunteers to provide a comfortable home taking care of 40 disadvantaged children.

Seth is a father of 4, an easy-going guy, and he loves singing, dancing and spending time with family. In fact, we’re yet to hear from anyone who got bored in Seth’s company. With his rich experience and deep understanding about the issues in the local communities, you could always count on him for a safe, fun, and meaningful volunteering experience in Ghana.

 

Meet AIAV’s Coordinator in Kenya: Fanuel

 

Fanuel holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Moi University; he also has a certificate in Project Cycle Management, Mentorship for International Volunteering and Enterprise Development Planning.

Fanuel has been a volunteer in his community for over a decade and currently is responsible for media outreach and positioning around the globe at his organization. He also offers support to the program’s team in project implementation and volunteer mentorship programs. In the past, he has worked extensively in developing, promoting and delivering development projects in Kenya. He has over eight years of experience in managing volunteer programs in Kenya.

He enjoys reading, writing, gardening, hiking, collecting art, travelling and bird watching. With his experience in the volunteering field, you are sure to have a safe, eye-opening, and wonderful volunteering experience in Kenya.

 

Meet AIAV’s Coordinator in Nepal: Naresh

 

Naresh has had a long and varied career in the field of language and cross-cultural training and organizing volunteer placements for the international community in Nepal. Born in Dharan, a town in eastern Nepal, he pursued his studies in Economics and Political Science at Mahendra College under Tribhuvan University. However, his true passion was travel and meeting new people. At the young age of 12, the memorable event of meeting a foreigner from the American Peace Corps prompted Naresh to take an interest in the English language. This experience encouraged him to pursue the path that he is on today.

Naresh has worked as a Nepali language teacher and coordinator of cultural orientation classes for various international organizations such as American Peace Corps/Nepal, Netherlands Volunteer Service, German Volunteer Service, School for International Training (USA), GAP Program (UK), and several other development projects. Four years working with American Peace Corps and six years with the School for International Training (USA) gave Naresh the cultural exposure that he had been seeking.

In 1995, Naresh travelled to Vancouver as a volunteer for a three-month cultural exchange program. It was an eye-opening experience being fully immersed in Canadian culture and exposed to a diverse community of international people.

He lives in Pokhara with his wife, and enjoys meditation and yoga in his free time. With his many years of experience hosting a lot of international volunteers’ and now being AIAV’s representative in Nepal, you’re sure to have a safe, responsible, and eventful volunteering experience in Nepal.

 

Meet AIAV’s Coordinator in Sri Lanka: Harsha

 

Harsha is a professional human resources personnel and he has been an HRM consultant for over 9 years in Sri Lanka.

He actively participates in social work and currently, he’s become a committee member of the Dowa Blind and Deaf School. His desire for social work guided him to establish volunteer projects for needy people in his lovely country.

He has successfully coordinated more than 100 international volunteer placements for social good and site seeing in Sri-Lanka in the last couple of years.

With Harsha’s in-depth knowledge about local issues in Sri-Lanka and his love for meeting people, he is always more than happy to make you feel at home while making a difference and experiencing Sri- Lanka as a whole.

Harsha is happily married and enjoys the outdoors, reading books and listening to music.

 

AIAV’s Coordinator in Uganda: Isaac

 

Isaac has a wide range of education and experience. He obtained a Bachelor degree in Project Planning and Management. He also has a Diploma in Social Work and Social Administration, as well as several certificates in such fields as counselling, photography and leadership under his belt. His extensive experience in the past has also included being a youth representative on the National Youth Council and a coordinator of youth projects for the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development. He’s also an ex-president of the Mukono District NGOs Network.

Having gone through difficulty himself as a kid growing up in a rural community and struggling to become who he is today, in 2006, Isaac founded an organization to aid needy people and communities as his contribution towards human and community development. As a leader of the organization, he has since made a significant difference in many people’s lives, just to mention a few, through his “bright future” initiative and environmental conservation programs.

He enjoys reading. In fact, you will always find him with a book. He likes traveling, watching movies (comedy and action), going for a walk, loves soccer of course, and he is always ready to spend time with his family.

Isaac’s easy-going attitude, strong involvement in development issues and successful working experiences with both local and international volunteers on the ground, tell you that you will receive unparalleled support and great volunteering experiences in Uganda.





Testimonials

Testimonials

 

Jessica Chang

Medical Student, Hong Kong

"I was finally placed in a public teaching hospital in Galle. I spent half of the time in emergency treatment unit (emergency medicine) and the other half of the time in general surgery.

During the placement, i had the chance to shadow the doctors working there and also joined the medical students' teaching activities such as lecture and clinical skill workshop. I had exposure to various emergency cases and resuscitation scenario. Also, i had the chance to see different surgical cases and to observe or even assist in operation.

Through the placement, apart from putting my medical knowledge into clinical practice, I have a better understanding of the health care system of Sri Lanka and their current limitation. This is beneficial for my future career to know more about medical system of places outside my hometown.

What is more, I was pleased to learn more about the local culture like their language, religion, festival etc. People there are also interested in my hometown and we share a lot. Cultural exchange was achieved through interaction with my host family and doctors and medical students I met."

Kassandra Zukowski

Sales Instructor, USA

"I recently returned from volunteering in India with AIAV. My trip was an amazing experience! I worked on the Elephant Care program, and cannot express how great of an opportunity it was to work one-on-one with such sweet elephants. AIAV was great to work with throughout the experience!"

Rebekah Reyes

Family Nurse Practitioner, USA

"I applied to go to Ghana and was also not entirely sure what to expect. AIAV exceeded my expectations. They have met their goal of providing affordable opportunities to serve. Throughout the entire process my questions were answered promptly and I knew I could ask Narcisz for help or advice if needed. The site coordinator met us at the airport and we communicated with him and with AIAV throughout the trip. The whole experience was great and I would do it again in a heartbeat. This is a no-hassle, straightforward way to volunteer for anybody who is a go-getter!"

Tanisha Mkandawire

Student, USA

"When I applied to be a volunteer in Nepal with the Arm-In-Arm Volunteer organization, I was expecting a good experience with a bit of mishaps. To my surprise everything went well, if not better. The application process was a breeze and I was able to reach both the organization and the on sight coordinator (In Nepal) at any time via email or phone. Upon arrival everything was prepared for me and I was treated with such wonderful hospitality from people who hardly knew me off paper. Though I had hope in the organization, I was expecting a bit of chaos along the way, but I was proven wrong. I was welcomed with open arms at the placement (Shree Shitladevi School) by both the staff and the students. Everything was planned well in order accommodate me, from my arrival to departure. I plan on taking another trip next year with the Arm-In-Arm Volunteer organization and I hope you do the same. Jai Nepal"

Mark Kingma

Senior Business Consultant, Holland

"I have had a great experience concerning the in country staff, the accommodation and the activities that I have done in Uganda."

Brendon Brown

Central Washington University, USA

"Volunteering in Hetauda, Nepal

I couldn't be more pleased with my volunteer trip abroad. Arm in Arm Volunteers placed me with the ideal in country coordinator, who was extremely helpful. AIAV made sure that I was well prepared before departing, thoroughly answered all of my questions, and made sure to check up half way through my assignment. I volunteered at Manavsewa Ashram (Human Service Home) in Hetauda, in the region of Makwanpur, Nepal. The experience was life changing. Seeing life in a developing country first hand, getting to learn about the culture and heritage from the people, and having the opportunity to contribute to an outstanding project was wonderful. I stayed in Nepal for a month, and while there I worked with children at a center for the city's homeless, mentally ill, and orphans which aims to put them in a position to re-join society. I wouldn't change anything about my experience."

Joseph McNeil

University of Edinburgh, UK

"Amazing experience in Senya Beraku, Ghana

I would describe my time with Arm-in-Arm Volunteers, through whom I was linked with Becky's Home in Senya Beraku, Central Region, Ghana, as an extremely positive. My program lasted 11 days and I enjoyed every minute of it. Arm-in-Arm provided me with all the support and guidance that I needed for a successful trip. In particular, the project in-country that they linked me with was ideal in so many ways - as soon as I started work there, I quickly developed a passion for the common goals of the brilliant in-country director of the Foundation. The program was efficient and well organised. Accommodation was easily satisfactory and the program also provided me with good time to relax as well as to explore Ghana at the weekends. I would recommend Arm-in-Arm, as well as Becky's Foundation in Ghana, to anyone looking for a exciting and enjoyable volunteering experience."

Catherine Lu

University of Alberta, Canada

"Volunteering in Ghana was an eye opening experience, it made me appreciate a lot of things that I took for granted, the spirit of the children I met was inspiring."

Ngozi Ugwumba

Public Health Professional, Nigeria

"I would like to say a very big thank you to the Arm-In-Arm Volunteers team for the most rewarding experience in Ghana. I applied as a medical volunteer and got a good placement with a Primary Health Centre where I gained valuable experience in my field. I also got an opportunity to interact with the kids from the orphanage where I lived and words cannot describe the joy from the bond you form with these kids."

Allira Attwill

Health Policy Consultant, United Kingdom

"My boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed our time volunteering in Sri Lanka. We were there over Christmas, and thought that the experience may have been a very emotional and sad one. However, from the moment we arrived we had enormous smiles on our faces, because the children were so happy. We played many games with the children - some aiming to improve their English and some that were just for fun. The orphanage is a great place for the children, and they value the volunteers enormously. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone considering volunteering."

Cheryl L.

Public Services Librarian, Victoria, BC

“I have known Narcisz Magyara for many years as a dear friend, musical colleague, and through editing the website content for Arm In Arm Volunteers. In all the time I have known her, and across all capacities, she demonstrates the same caring, humorous attitude, conscientiousness, meticulous attention to detail and authentic, no-nonsense approach to people and situations. She is a joy to work with and I know that all of these qualities will accompany her in her work with you and give you confidence in choosing Arm In Arm Volunteers for your volunteer experience. I was also extremely impressed with the level of thought and detail that both she and Ato included in the website content that I edited during the initial planning stages. These two have done their homework and both possess a genuine desire to help people, especially in developing countries. You will be in good hands with Narcisz and Ato!”