History

Open Arms Home for Children was founded by Bob and Sallie Solis of Phoenix, Arizona. After taking a family mission trip to South Africa in 2005, the Solis family felt called to do something about the plight of children orphaned by AIDS in the country. This calling was the genesis of Open Arms and much has been accomplished by this ministry in a short time – thanks to the help of so many people who have joined in this effort with their donations, their hard work and their prayers.

After that initial trip to South Africa, the Solis family took their life savings and bought the 70 acre hilltop farm that serves as Open Arms Home today. Bob remembers sleeping on the floor on an old mattress in August of 2005 – that mattress was the only furniture in the place! Very quickly, funds were raised to buy furnishings and an old car. The Department of Social Development in South Africa followed by granting a license to take in orphaned children and on March 16, 2006, a young two year-old boy named Sifundo was the first child to come to Open Arms. We mark that date as our founding day and celebrate March 16th every year as a great day to remember.

Given the prevalence of AIDS in South Africa, our population quickly grew to seven children at the end of 2006, 21 at the end of 2007, 31 children in 2008-09, 40 children in 2010-11 and now we are home to 57 of the most resilient human beings you will find anywhere! This growth has been possible because of the generosity of so many people who serve as the lifeblood of our organization.

In August, 2008, because we had reached our capacity constraints at 31 kids, Bob Solis undertook a 700 mile walk across South Africa to raise money to build additional cottages at Open Arms. This walk successfully raised $250,000.00 which will allow us to house an additional 40-50 kids in the years to come. 

Many people have stepped forward in our history to help make Open Arms Home for Children a place of great hope, laughter and love. There are simply too many people to thank here but we know who you are and our God does too!

There will be much more history to be written in the years to come about Open Arms. We, the Board, staff, volunteers and donors are privileged to be just ordinary people who are trying to provide an extraordinary place for orphaned children to live and grow up. This work is vitally important. As we make history together, everything we do is centered on our biblical motto:

"Whoever welcomes one child such as this in my name, welcomes me.”

(Mark 9:37).