South Africa - Komga

Population facets: 

Partner Organization:  Open Arms Home for Children

Location:  Komga, South Africa

Number of Students:  2 students

Dates:  Somewhat flexible.  Final dates to be coordinated by the site.

In person opportunities summer 2022: Yes

Virtual opportunities summer 2022: No

Additional Information:

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, if we are unable to deploy students in person, students will not be obligated to complete the ISSLP and may withdraw without penalty. For students wishing to continue with the ISSLP in virtual mode, ISSLP staff will work with them to be placed with a virtual international service option.

Participation Requirements:

  • Language & Proficiency Requirement:  None
  • Gender Requirement:  None
  • Required Experience:  Experience working with young children and youth.  Prior experience working with children who have experienced various childhood traumas is helpful
  • Major Requirement:  None
  • Student Minimum Age:  None
  • Special Requirements:  None
  • Other:  Students are expected to participate in the prayer and community life of Open Arms and to respect the religious  prominence  of Christianity within the local culture of the staff and children.  High flexibility is necessary  and ability to work in any capacity as directed.

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment:  (The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed.)

  • First Aid & CPR Training
  • Teaching/Working with Children Workshop
  • HIV/AIDS Workshop
  • Self Defense Session

Site Description:  

See the official Open Arms website:

Open Arms is a home that seeks to provide a loving residential environment that serves the emotional, physical, and developmental needs of children in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  Currently, 60 children reside there with plans to expand to accommodate up to 70 children.  The children's ages range from 3 months to 22 years old.

The home provides shelter, food, and clothing to the children and so much more.  The children receive love and attention, access to health services, and educational opportunities.  Many of the children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS; some come from families who are sick and dying from AIDS; others have been abandoned by their families due to developmental disabilities; while others come from families that suffer from alcohol abuse and are unable to take care of the children.

Open Arms Home for Children is situated about five minutes outside the rural town of Komga on the Eastern Cape in South Africa.  Open Arms was started in 2006 by Bob and Sallie Solis of Phoenix, Arizona.  Bob is a 1984 graduate of Notre Dame. 

Scope of Work & Responsibilities:  

Notice: Scope of work may have some changes based on the needs of the partner organizations at the time of student arrival/engagement.

This site will be in person for summer 2022. 

This section reflects the most recent scope of work for students who deployed in the last few years to Open Arms, South Africa. This scope of work may change based on the needs of the organization at the time of student arrival and/or due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The ISSLP students’ main role and responsibility is to be role models and provide assistance to the children, directors, and staff of Open Arms.  Since ISSLP students live and work on the site premises, the work is varied and pertains to raising children and running a home.  Work with the children includes the rituals of preparing them for school in the morning and for bedtime;  working on language and motor skills with babies and toddlers; developing and providing fun, educational exercises, games, and activities for one-on-one and group settings; reading, baking, crafts, computer, and sports activities; helping children with chores and laundry; and supervising children during playtime; tutoring the school-aged children and helping them with homework. Other responsibilities include assisting with maintenance around the home. ISSLP students also may occasionally accompany children to the library, doctor’s appointments, and to church. 

Creativity, innovation, and applying students’ skills sets and talents are encouraged.  ISSLP students play a key role organizing activities for the children during the month of June which is a school holiday.  Past ISSLP students have helped to create and implement a reading program.  Other students have provided voice lessons; taught “handy-man skills” to the boys; organized drills and practices for the school-aged children to develop soccer skills; planned an Olympic Week; and developed a computer program for various levels, tutored children in computers, and created a schedule for weekend usage.  It is important for students to discuss the organization’s needs with the Directors of Open Arms, and be willing to work where needed.

Assistance with the staff could include helping the mamas prepare meals and pack lunches, and helping with tasks around the home such as gardening, organizing the library, or sorting donations. 

At the discretion of the Open Arms Directors, the students may also be asked to assume duties of running the home which could include purchasing food and supplies, running errands in the closest city, budgeting and preparing expense reports, talking with social workers, planning activities for the children when on school holiday, and updating the Director accordingly. 

Other opportunities in the local community may be available but are at the discretion of the Open Arms Director.

Housing & Lodging Information:

Students reside at Open Arms. Comfortable housing and amenities (phone, laundry, running water) and meals are provided on site. Full access to internet.

For More Information:

Visit the official Open Arms website at:

Former ISSLP Participants:

Andrea Prado Iriarte '22 (ISSLP 2020)* (Virtual 2021 Ecuador-Quito)
*Did not deploy due to COVID-19 pandemic

Notice: Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process.


upd 09.01.21
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