Polished and stylish when preparing for a board meeting, Ariel McGuire looks cool and professional. But stick around and watch her when she is doing her side hustle and you might be surprised. This 20-something year old has a few tattoos that you can see when she is in the ring….she’s a Muay Thai martial arts fighter! When she’s not in full-contact combat, this amazing young lady is involved in a much different type of fight. She’s battling for the lives of girls and women in a country over 5,000 miles away from home.
Born and raised in Virginia, Ariel graduated from university in 2014 with a degree in Religious Studies. In 2012, she traveled to Ghana to study. While there, this adventurous lady traveled through West and East Africa. Ariel lived and traveled in Southeast Asia from 2015-2016. While living in Thailand, she loved the culture.
“There were lots of markets and shops. I lived in the mountains,” Ariel said. “The people there are beautiful.”
Ariel was teaching English, but she was seeking out people to teach her the art of Muay Thai.
“I was on a mission and I asked everyone how to start Muay Thai lessons. No one could help until a friend introduced me to someone who was practicing.” Ariel was soon hooked.
She was also still passionate about helping people in other countries. In the summer of 2017, Ariel returned to work in Ghana.
Ariel said, “Through Global Leadership Adventures, I partners with [fellow co-founder] Fafa Nukunu. We created a new program together.”
On The Mother’s Heritage International (MHI) website, Ariel is described this way: “As a very curious, vivacious, and strong-willed young woman, her experiences over time have evoked a fervent belief and passion for education and empowerment of women. After seeing and experiencing first-hand the type of change that needs to happen in Ghana, paired with the ability to create it within reach, she jumped on the opportunity to create MHI with Fafa Nukunu.”
Lake Volta, Ghana, is plagued by child slavery. In the Lake Volta region, around one in three children are engaged in child labor. Ariel said, “When I arrived, I saw the homes for child slaves were only for the boys. I asked, ‘Why not girls, too?’
Ariel and Fafa worked together to make a home a reality for the girls, too. They founded MHI to be an agent of social change and refuge for at-risk girls in Ghana. They provide rescue and refuge for young female slaves, teach women self-sustainable vocational skills, support educational and medical missions, and offer community education outreach. The entire idea behind their organization is to provide a safe, healthy environment for growth and education for girls who seek refuge from harmful labor practices and treatment on Lake Volta. All of Ariel and Fafa’s social initiatives are efforts that work together to stop the cycle of forced child labor and create positive change for women in Ghana.
“My main takeaway is knowing we are making a difference,” Ariel stated. With the establishment of MHI in 2018, they have just gotten started.
“My vision for 2019 is to raise money to purchase land for a new home for the girls.” Ariel said the best way to contribute to MHI is to donate money so she and Fafa can purchase the land and the building materials they need for the new building.
Another way Ariel is raising money for MHI is through her passion for Muay Thai. Ariel currently competes in Muay Thai tournaments in Virginia. Here at RBI, someone who is associated with insurance had one of his unfiltered ADHD thoughts and suggested to Ariel to have a fight card to benefit her nonprofit. She thought this was a great idea! Ariel’s fight to raise money for MHI will be happening on January 26 in Winchester, Virginia at 6 PM. To learn more, please go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/RFSMMA/posts/. Ariel is kicking butt, both figuratively and literally!
Whether she’s grappling with a fighter in the ring, or she’s working tirelessly to give girls and women in Ghana their freedom, Ariel is the kind of contender we love to champion.