An interview with Muskoka Foundation
Today we are bringing to your attention Muskoka Foundation, a relatively new friend of OTB! Learn about this amazing foundation and get involved!
What is Muskoka Foundation and how did the idea of starting a not-for-profit organization begin?
We (Jay, Alice, and our kids) were living in Singapore, and we were surrounded by many developing countries whose citizens could use our professional skills to improve their lives and the next generations’. However, as we were seeking to volunteer our time and skills, we were not able to find a suitable opportunity and yet we would have to pay volunteering fees. However, after having realized the unlimited good we could do with our skills, the passion was growing in us despite the challenges to see a world where ethical volunteering is a standard part of every traveler’s plans.
So we decided that something had to be done to make it closer to reality. We decided to start a foundation where travelers can be connected, equipped, and trained to create positive impacts as they travel. Muskoka is the name of a community in northern Ontario that we really loved. We have two communities whom we have been working with there. Muskoka is also known for the “Inukshuk stone sculptures” that we use as our logo. The Inukshuk sculptures were used by travelers in the region as trail markers, as a way to help other travelers after them to find a safe place, like a watering hole or a nearby village. So wherever travelers saw an Inukshuk sculpture, they were able to tell that the sculpture was put there to point out a nearby safe harbour. This model really depicts our foundation’s working model. We envision our networks of travelers and our network of communities to be “open-source”, created and maintained by travelers, for the good of others.
What kind of programs do you offer?
We offer help to travelers to do good as they go. We will connect travelers to communities where they can use their skills to do good along their itineraries. We will also provide the necessary training and equipment to leverage the professional skills the travelers have to make positive impacts where they go. So far we have programs such as the photography program, market access program, gardening program, science program, etc. The list of programs are growing as more and more professionals offer their skills and expertise to help others. Travelers are more than encouraged to suggest new ways to create a better world with us. They can also offer as little as a few days to any time commitment they can give.
Where do you see your foundation in 5-10 years from now?
We see that in 5-10 years we will have a very comprehensive network of travelers helping each other in doing good within the network of our partner organizations.
How can OTB readers get involved with Muskoka Foundation?
First of all, we believe that everybody has something they can contribute. We would love to leverage that “something” by providing the necessary training and equipment so they can carry out the good work. Contact us if you are traveling and would like to volunteer. Or if you are not traveling extensively, but would like to volunteer locally, please feel free to contact us too! Some may say, “Oh I don’t have the time to volunteer, how can I still make a difference?” We say, “You can still get involved!” We know many people out there are willing to volunteer, but like what we found before, many people think that volunteering costs money. So you can help us spread the word that volunteering doesn’t have to cost money, so those who do have the time to volunteer can actually volunteer. You can also help us update and develop curriculum for our various programs as well. We are also actively seeking to partner with reliable communities and organizations who are doing good in their local areas, where we can help them by sending the travelers to help them out. We need help in growing this network of communities and screen out potential partners. Our network of travelers will be able to transfer their skills to those local organizations, so they and their communities will be one step closer to sustainability.