Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the child sponsorship link on your website?
We have moved away from a child sponsorship model to a village sponsorship model, called the Circle of H.O.P.E. When you give to Open Arms International in any capacity, you are supporting the children, along with their community, by providing H.O.P.E. (Homes, Outreach, Purpose and Empowerment)!
Can I support a child I’ve met while on a team at the Village?
Financial gifts support all our children and their needs, though you can support individual ones through prayer.
Why did you stop doing one-on-one child sponsorship?
Our goal has always been the same: to provide the best care possible for vulnerable children in Eldoret, Kenya. The past few years, we’ve reevaluated several of our programs to decide how we can serve them even better. We decided to change our support model for several reasons:
Child Protection – Because Open Arms Village is easy to locate, we want to put less personal information about our children on the internet. We also want our children decide when and how to share their own stories. In our increasingly digital age, protecting our children’s privacy and identities is a big priority.
Wise Stewardship – In the last few years, Kenya has passed new legislation that encourages organizations like Open Arms to pursue reunification with our children’s biological family whenever safe and possible. These are positive, exciting changes! However, they do mean more paperwork for our staff in Kenya and abroad. Moving to a new model will significantly decrease administrative costs, so together we can support more kiddos better.
Can I send gifts to the children?
Any gifts received will be distributed at the discretion of the staff at Open Arms Village for the benefit of all our children.
With Open Arms' new sponsorship model, does my money still go to the kids?
Yes, your money has always been used for the kids - and that will not change. You are still providing food, water, clothing, medical care, education, counseling, a home, a family, and more for each child at Open Arms Village. And you are still making a huge impact for the children. Thank you!
Open Arms Village
Are you an orphanage? Are your children available for adoption?
No. Our Village is just that...a Village! There are nine family homes with 12-16 children each, parented by a set of loving Kenyan houseparents. Open Arms has legal guardianship over all the beautiful children living at the Village, but they are not available for adoption. Our goal is to raise up a generation of responsible, Godly leaders equipped with the skills and integrity to confront the difficult issues facing their people and effect lasting change within their country.
How do you get your children?
Many come to us from the District Children's Office, the local government agency that protects the wellbeing of Kenyan children. Quite a few have been orphaned or abandoned on the streets of Eldoret, but not all of them are orphans. Sometimes a child’s home life is simply too unstable or unsafe for them to remain. Every child has a different story.
Do your children stay connected with their biological family?
Whenever healthy and possible, yes! Open Arms strongly encourages children to stay in touch with any known family or tribe members. In fact, several times a year we host an event called Community Day. This is an important event where we welcome birth-parents, relatives, and previous guardians to enjoy time with the children. In addition, many children visit their relatives for short or long periods of time during school breaks, with close oversight by Open Arms social workers.
How do your children celebrate their birthdays?
With so many children, it is difficult to celebrate each birthday individually. The Village has a quarterly birthday celebration with special foods, gifts, and activities.
How are your children named?
Our children each have a Christian (Western) name and a Kenyan name. Their Christian name is given to them by their parent(s) or caregiver(s), and their Kenyan name is given to them by their tribe. Most children are named prior to their arrival at Open Arms Village. For the safety and privacy of our children, we change their names in our online and printed communication.
Is Open Arms affiliated with a particular denomination or church?
No, Open Arms isn’t affiliated with any particular denomination or church. We are a faith-based, Christian organization that enjoys partnering with all demoninations and churches.
Does OAI work anywhere else besides Kenya?
In the past, Open Arms has sent medical teams throughout east Africa and India. Right now we are concentrating our efforts on Kenya. However, as the organization grows and develops we hope to once again take teams to countries in other parts of the world.
Who oversees your work in Kenya?
Our founder, Rachel Gallagher, lives full-time at the Open Arms Village in Kenya. Along with a Kenyan Board of Directors, she oversees our Kenyan staff and day-to-day operations on the ground in Kenya. A U.S. Board of Directors and staff run our stateside offices in Oregon and Texas. We also have an office and board of directors in the United Kingdom.
What are traditional Kenyan dishes?
Kenyan food is delicious! Most people eat rice, beans, chicken, and a flatbread called chapati. For dessert, they eat a doughnut-like cake called mandaze (men-daz-ee). One of the children’s favorite treats is “lollies,” or lollipops.
What types of skills or experience does a person need to be an effective member of a team?
Medical Clinics: We need doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, paramedics, pharmacists, medical technicians, etc.
Children's Programs: We need team members who have experience teaching and working with children.
Pastors' Conferences: We need pastors, Bible teachers and those who can teach Christian ministry leadership.
Ministry Events: We need those gifted in ministry; those who can share their faith through drama, music, speaking and one-on-one counseling.
Construction: We need experienced contractors and construction workers who can supervise, build new projects and oversee the renovation of other projects. We also need individuals experienced in water engineering to assist us in setting up filtration systems, digging wells and building water tanks.
How much does a trip cost?
The cost of an outreach trip will vary slightly based on the number of days spent at Open Arms Village. The cost of a typical two-week trip is $2,550 per person. Payments can be made in installments, with an application fee of $250 required to secure a spot on a team. Full payment is required 60 days before departing from the United States or another home country.
How do I sign up for a trip?
Complete the outreach teams contact form. OAI staff will contact you to help determine the best outreach team to fit your schedule and skillset. Then, you can submit an application and application fee ($250) online. From there, we help you every step of the way - don't hesitate to ask questions!
What other requirements are there if I sign up for a trip?
If your application is approved, there are three required team meetings prior to your departure. These meetings are designed to provide important travel and cultural information and develop team relationships. Appropriate vaccinations and entry requirements will also be addressed during these meetings. In addition, your team will have one debriefing meeting after you return from Kenya.
Is there a minimum age for team members?
An applicant must be at least 18 years of age to go on an OAI trip without a parent or guardian. Individuals under the age of 18 may be eligible to go on a trip if OAI gives its approval AND if a parent or guardian accompanies the individual on the trip. We address all underage applicants on a case-by-case basis. OAI believes that it is important for teenagers to experience life in other countries, so please don’t hesitate to ask. There is no maximum age limit for prospective team members. If an individual is in good physical and mental health, age is not a concern.
What are the accommodations like?
You will stay in guest houses at the Open Arms Village. Our guest houses are extremely comfortable with many Western amenities including running filtered water, flush toilets, comfortable beds, hot showers, and washing machines.
How long is a trip?
Trips are typically two weeks long. You will most likely spend 11 days in Kenya and 3 days traveling.
Can I stay longer than that?
For your first trip, we ask that you only go for two weeks. If you have been to the Village before and would like to stay longer, please contact the office for an extended stay application. You will be asked to share how you plan to spend your extra time.