Volunteer programs are everywhere nowadays. Companies running volunteer schemes all across the world such as ICS, Volunteer International, United Planet and GVI UK are internationally renowned for their programs. Typically, these schemes involve western students, teens or young adults heading to ‘developing countries’ to take part in projects with the aim of helping local communities. These programs often range from wildlife conservation to teaching and building schools and are normally undertaken with several other participants in groups. Participants are typically expected to fundraise for costs related to the program, or fund themselves in other ways. However, because of their vast scope, associated fees, and the way in which they are advertised, these programs typically attract certain demographics over others, despite the fact that the populations they serve are often black or brown. In recent years the phenomenon produced by such programs have attracted attention for all the wrong reasons, with many claiming that they unintentionally reinforce the image of Africans, Black people or People of colour as helpless.
Having spoken to numerous individuals of African descent about their experiences while taking part in such programs it occurred to our founder that an important opportunity for our global community could be passing us by in this process. The idea for a ‘volunteer’ program with a difference, focusing solely on the African diaspora worldwide and encouraging cultural exchanges, understanding throughout the diaspora and the building of long-lasting skills and friendships was thus born of these experiences, and the awareness of this gap.
We maintain that, while mainstream volunteer programs may not intend to contribute to the negative image of Africans and black people while conducting their work, they ultimately uphold/support a racially problematic power dynamic. Another effect has been the creation of what could be termed a dependency culture related to the white savior complex mentioned above. ADVN see the importance in a narrative that shows our ability to resolve or contribute towards solutions for our own problems. This would send a positive and new image to ourselves and the rest of the world.
ADVN aims to increase the ties between different parts of the African diaspora by organizing volunteer programs sending people of African descent to other areas of the African diasporic world to learn, teach, share and grow.
We aim to build a greater understanding and awareness of differing cultures and issues related to other black communities, with the ultimate goal in mind of forging deeper ties amongst the entire diaspora.
In the words of Guyanese scholar, activist and author of ‘ How Europe Underdeveloped Africa ’ Walter Rodney:
To talk about Pan - Africanism is to talk about international solidarity within the black world… whichever sector of the black world we live in, we have a series of responsibilities. One of the most important is to define our own situation. A second responsibility is to present that definition to the other parts of the black world … A third responsibility…is to help others in a different section of the black world to reflect on their own specific experience’
ADVN hopes to take great strides towards fulfilling these responsibilities and providing the entire black diaspora with an opportunity to do the same.
ADVN is a community initiative that begun with just one woman!
Learn more about our executive board!
ADVN relies on the hardwork and support of several influential ambassadors! Find out more about who they are and what they do.
In creating ADVN we seek to invite the participation of other like-minded organizations in order to ensure a broader reach. Take a look at some of our affiliated organisations!
Our founder, representatives and exec have been busy representing us on the Radio, in the news and more! Find out more here.
ADVN is pleased to be sponsored by several community organisations