FAQ

A. General

Why volunteer?

  • Volunteering brings personal satisfaction for making a difference.
  • It helps you gain in-depth understanding about people and the world.
  • It aids you to share valuable experiences, cultures, and ideas.
  • It’s a great way to make new friends.
  • It increases confidence.
  • It enhances your resume.
  • You’ll gain new skills such as leadership skills.
  • It’s a good way to explore a possible new career.
  • It’s fun.

Is AIAV legitimate?

Arm-In-Arm Volunteers is a registered non-profit organization located in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Our corporation number is 870551-8. You may also contact Revenue Canada for verification at any time. Feel free to call us, should you have any further questions regarding our legitimacy.

Why do I need to pay to volunteer?

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. Administrative costs.
  6. Visitations and calls (checkups).
  7. 24/7 in-country support.
  8. Orientation.

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 completion of your program.
  5. Project visits.
  6. Overall quality control.
  7. Administrative work.
  8. $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.

How does AIAV select its Partner Organizations?

Our partner organizations:

  • Are registered NGOs or institutions.
  • Have satisfactory background checks.
  • Have well-respected leadership within the organization and in the community.
  • Have fair, transparent, and sound management.
  • Have programs that have a direct impact on the people and the community.

B. Fees

Are there any discounts available?

The project fee is never discounted as once you pay that, it’s immediately put to use to make arrangements for your welcoming. However, we do have 1 discount available for groups on our registration fee.

We consider 3 people or more as a group. If you register as a group member, you’re entitled to a 15% discount.

How can I raise funds to pay for my trip?

Even though AIAV has managed to keep the registration fee incredibly low, we still recognize that after putting airfare, insurance, and all other expenses together, it adds up. As a result, AIAV has launched a one of a kind membership site! We have a tool for you where you can set up your own fundraising campaign on our website and share it with your friends and family. All donations go directly into your PayPal account! Networking is the best fundraising strategy and, through our tool, you may spread the word just by the click of a button. Our step-by-step guidelines will let you launch your fundraising campaign in no time!

We have also compiled a list of other resources for your aid in fundraising, which you will receive in your Pre-Departure Information booklet.

Is airfare included in the registration or project fee?

No, you’re responsible for arranging and paying for your own flight.

Is travel insurance included in the registration or project fee?

No, travel insurance is not included in any of our fees. You are responsible for your own travel insurance.

What is your cancellation policy?

AIAV will refund 50% of the registration fee if you decide to cancel the registration with AIAV within 30 days of registration. There is 0% refund after the 30 days expire.

Project fees are never refundable because once you pay the fee, your money is put to use to make arrangements for your welcoming.

Cancellation is only accepted in a written and signed format. Cancellation over the phone is not accepted.

When are the fees due?

The registration fee is due upon signing up for your volunteer membership site. The project fee is due during your in-country orientation after arrival.

Why are AIAV’s fees lower than average?

There are no hidden fees and no unnecessary sums included in our registration and project fees. We are simply keeping it real for you, as well as collaborating with local staff to keep costs down. Our aim is to provide you with an experience of a lifetime, as well as to achieve peace and development in developing countries through your help.

C. Requirements

Can people from outside of Canada volunteer?

Yes, anyone in the world who meets the following requirements can volunteer:

  • You should be fluent in English.
  • Provide proof of age (copy of passport). You must be 18 years old. Those under age 18 may attend age-appropriate projects with adult accompaniment.
  • 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).

Can people under age 18 attend?

People under age 18 may attend age-appropriate projects with adult accompaniment.

Do I need to be a qualified teacher to teach abroad as a volunteer?

No, you do not!

To help you out, we have teamed up with Off2Class that provides free lesson content for volunteers that need to run ESL tutorials. The lesson content library is extremely intuitive, and comes with adjoining teacher notes, making it easy to teach, even if you aren’t a trained ESL teacher. Off2Class is a simple tool for teaching ESL while volunteering. Please quote “Arm-in-Arm” when replying to the email you get on account set-up.

What if I don’t have any special skills? Can I still volunteer?

Yes, your presence alone can draw attention to the project and open doors that were closed before. This extra attention can mean funds from the government, for example. Lending a helping hand in any way possible is a bonus.

D. Registration

Do I need a visa to volunteer?

This will depend on the length of your visit, the country you’re from, and the country you’re volunteering in. Visa information is included in your Pre-Departure Information Booklet after registration.

For how long is my registration fee valid?

The registration fee is valid until the completion of the project; there is no specific time frame.

How far in advance should I register?

We recommend that you register at least 2 months before your planned departure date to allow sufficient time for preparation. Spontaneous travellers should give us a call to see what we can do.

E. Pre-departure

Should I bring any special supplies for my volunteering project?

You do not need to bring any supplies for your volunteer work, but they’re always welcome. After your placement is confirmed, you can decide to bring some project-appropriate materials. For example, if you’ll be working with children, you could bring along used clothing, toys, games, art supplies, or school materials. However, in order to help grow local economies, we do recommend you buy these things upon arrival in your host country. You can always ask your in-country coordinator for project-specific recommendations.

Should I register with my government office abroad?

Yes, we encourage you to register with them either pre-departure or once you’ve arrived in your host country.

What kind of money should I bring with me?

We recommend that you bring some cash with you that you think might be enough for some souvenirs and weekend travels. Upon your arrival, your guides will accompany you to a foreign exchange bureau where you’ll be able to get some local currency. Also bring an international debit/credit card along for emergencies. It is not advisable to use these on a regular basis as card frauds are common in developing countries. We also do not recommend traveller’s cheques as it is pricey to cash them in, and it might be difficult to find an open bank when you need it.

What vaccinations will I require?

Generally, most developing countries require the yellow fever vaccination. For additional vaccination information please click hereUltimately, visit your local travel health clinic for a personalized vaccination plan.

F. In-country

Can I change projects in the middle of my stay?

Our in-country coordinators are flexible and always there to help. Please note, if the new project is in a new town/village, you’ll be responsible for the transportation costs.

How many hours a day will I have to work?

On average, you’ll work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, with the weekends off. Depending on your project, the hours might be less or more. You will learn the specifics before your departure. The hours are negotiable though, so you can always talk to your in-country coordinator if you’re not comfortable with your hours.

Is anyone going to meet me at the airport?

Yes, an AIAV in-country team member is going to welcome you at the airport and take you to the orientation site. After the orientation, you’ll also be transported to your project site by an in-country team member.

May I extend my stay?

If you would like to extend your stay, you will need to speak with your in-country coordinator. Our partners are always ready to assist you.

Where will I sleep and what will I eat?

You will either stay with a local host family, at a volunteer centre, or on the project site with other volunteers. You will receive 3 delicious home-cooked meals each day. You will receive specifics before your departure.

Will I be able to contact my family/friends upon arrival?

Yes, during the orientation you will have Internet access, so you will be able to send a note to your family/friends.

Will I be alone on the project?

Depending on the size of the project, you may either end up alone on a project, or with a few other volunteers. You will learn the specifics before your departure.

G. After travel

What happens after I return home?

You will experience re-entry shock. We encourage you to share your stories, pictures, and videos with family and friends to break the ice and get comfortable at home again. Also, don’t be surprised if you hear from AIAV inviting you to an event to share your story with others.

Will AIAV provide me with a reference letter after returning home?

Yes, we would be glad to write you a reference letter should you need it any time. Just drop us a line!