Open Arms SA started, January 2015 as a project of Isiaiah 54 Children's Sanctuary.
Since the start of Open Arms SA, hundreds of pregnant women/girls and birth mothers have approached us either via Facebook or WhatsApp.
Open Arms SA is a online help desk that offers counseling, emotional support and understanding.
The benefits of being a online help desk is that it is easily accessible to all pregnant women/girls and birth mothers that are in need of someone to talk to.
It overcomes barriers that may hold them back form seeking help, for example, people in the community may question why they are going to such a centre, or if they live in a rural area or remote area where there is no such services offered such as this.
Also people with hearing problems will benefit and it has also shown to be effective and encouraging for teenagers as they seem to be more comfortable with using social media.
It is also very convenient for the pregnant women/girl or birth mothers, as well as for us, as we can communicate with each other at anytime of the day. This was of offering support takes away the hassle of scheduling and setting appointments. We are also not restricted to times like traditional centre's which gives us the opportunity
to offer our serves 24/7 and we are able to reach out to the whole of South Africa and even beyond.
It also helps those who may be uncomfortable with talking face to face about their problems.
Offering online services is not only easily accessible but also very affordable as we do not charge a fee, we dont pay rent for a space as well as mommies do not have to pay any taxi fees.
As long as we both have data we are able to communicate.
We are able to effectively eliminate the social stigma associated with receiving " therapy/counseling".
They can contact us in their own time, privately without having to visit a traditional centre. It allows the pregnant women/girl or birth mother to feel less stigmatized without having to be seen by others; friends, family, staff or anyone that they could see on their way to the centre, entering the centre and leaving the centre. Because of the online service they might seek assistance when they might otherwise have hesitated.
Because we do not have face to face contact, it helps the mommy to be more open without concerns of race, gender, age, size or how they look. Social Media clearly offers a level of anonymity that is felt as non-threatening which allows them to open up easier.
Our communication is in written form, we communicate via Facebook and WhatsApp which allows the mommies to pay close attention to our communication and reflect on their thoughts and feelings prior to it being expressed. This helps when they experience difficulty expressing themselves as they have the time to respond as well as re-write their reply until they happy with what they have written.
Research also suggest that writing during difficult times helps for emotional healing.