SOS Children's Villages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
SOS Children's Village in Mar del Plata, Argentina
SOS Children's Village in Kleve-Donsbrüggen, Germany

SOS Children's Villages is an independent, non-governmental international development organisation which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. It was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Imst, Austria. According to the Financial Times, the 2004 turnover of SOS Children's Villages altogether was US$807 million, and it was ranked 33 out of a 100 global NGOs for "global accountability".[1] Its international umbrella organisation, SOS-Kinderdorf International, was founded in 1960, after national associations had been established in France, Germany and Italy in addition to the original Austrian association. Over a hundred national associations across the world have since been established.


The organisation's work focuses on abandoned, destitute and orphaned children requiring family-based child care. Millions of children worldwide are living without their biological families for a variety of reasons including:

  • parental separation,
  • domestic violence and neglect,
  • they have lost their parents due to war or natural catastrophes,
  • disease – including, increasingly, AIDS.

Such children are supported to recover from being emotionally traumatised and to avoid real danger of being isolated, abused, exploited and deprived of their rights.

SOS provides about 50,000 such children and 15,000 young adults with a permanent new family, with a '24 hours a day' new SOS mother (or, sometimes, a father or couple[2] ) to provide family-based care. Typically (in the developing world) about ten children are grouped into a house with an SOS mother and between ten and forty of such houses are grouped together as a "Village" with shared facilities. Family groups once formed are kept together as a priority.

Range of programmes[edit]

"... from my point of view, nothing in the world is more important than to care for and protect a child." Hermann Gmeiner (1919–1986).

In addition to the SOS Children's Villages (over 546 worldwide) that form the core of SOS Children's Villages' work, the organisation runs a whole range of programmes and facilities in support of socially disadvantaged and impoverished families to help them lead a better life in the long-term.[3] SOS also supports about a million other children in community programmes such as family strengthening,[4] running 192 schools across the developing world, running medical centres and programmes for street children, child soldiers and victims of disaster. One exemplary school run by the parent organisation is the SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College (SOS-HGIC) situated in Ghana, West Africa.


In January 2018, the branch of the association in Ethiopia was accused of supporting Islam, including forcible conversion of children.[5] The organization denies the allegations, but does admit that a mosque (now closed) had been built on SOS land, contrary to policy.[6]

Prominent supporters[edit]

The first prominent supporter was the German-British businesswoman Béatrice von Boch-Galhau, wife of the largest shareholder of the ceramic manufacturer Villeroy & Boch. She became friends with the at-the-time unknown Hermann Gmeiner. In 1959, she employed some of her private fortune to pay for the first Kinderdorf in Germany located in Merzig Hilbringen. She also used her husband's political connections to promote the SOS Kinderdorf idea which was first meeting resistance from the local majors.

Prominent supporters include Nelson Mandela; the Dalai Lama; Kakha Kaladze; Andriy Shevchenko; Anna Netrebko; Vincent Kompany; Henning Mankell; Ruud van Nistelrooy; Cesc Fàbregas; Argentine footballer Javier Zanetti; Belgian tennis player Kim Clijsters; French writer & actress Anny Dupérey; Sarah, Duchess of York; English Child Actress Georgie Henley; Princess Salimah Aga Khan; Cher; Mike Holmes;June Carter Cash; and Johnny Cash whose memorial fund is towards the work of SOS Children's Villages worldwide.[citation needed] The organisation received the 2002 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.[7]

SOS also receive significant funds through Genworth Financial's Putts4Charity initiative, which they run on golf's European Tour. In November 2012, the initiative reached €1 million in total money raised since 2007.

SOS invites support from community groups, schools and individuals through participation in World Orphan Week—an international week-long event promoting awareness of the needs of orphaned and abandoned children.


SOS is present in over 130 countries around the world.[8] These are listed below by region. SOS organisations in these countries provide active support to children and families. Exceptions are countries marked with an asterisk, in which SOS maintains representative offices which focus on fund-raising and building awareness.[9]

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana
Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde
Central African Republic Chad Côte d'Ivoire Democratic Republic of Congo
Djibouti Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia
Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau
Kenya Lesotho Liberia Madagascar
Malawi Mali Mauritius Morocco
Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria
Rwanda Senegal Sierra Leone Somalia
Somaliland South Africa South Sudan Sudan
Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia
Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe  
Argentina Bolivia Brazil Canada
Chile Colombia Costa Rica Dominican Republic
Ecuador El Salvador Guatemala Haiti
Honduras Jamaica Mexico Nicaragua
Panama Paraguay Peru Uruguay
USA Venezuela    
Armenia Azerbaijan Bahrain Bangladesh
Cambodia China Georgia India
Indonesia Israel Jordan Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan Laos Lebanon Mongolia
Nepal Pakistan Palestine Philippines
South Korea Sri Lanka Syria Taiwan
Thailand United Arab Emirates* Uzbekistan Vietnam
Albania Austria Belarus Belgium
Bosnia & Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Czech Republic
Denmark* Estonia Finland France
Germany Greece Hungary Iceland*
Italy Kosovo Latvia Lithuania
Luxembourg Macedonia Netherlands* Northern Cyprus
Norway Poland Portugal Romania
Russia Serbia Spain Sweden*
Switzerland* Ukraine United Kingdom*  
Australia* French Polynesia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Global organisations" (PDF). Financial Times. 
  2. ^ "Erster SOS-Kinderdorfvater in Kleve" [First SOS children's village father in Kleve] (in German). Rheinische Post. 
  3. ^ Freedman, Seth (19 February 2008). "An education in tolerance". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ Ghazal, Rym (June 12, 2016). "Jordan's orphans are keeping it in the family". The National. 
  5. ^ "Small Christian orphans converted to Islam". agenzia Fides. 
  6. ^ "SOS Children's Villages reaffirms its commitment to children at risk". Agenzia Fides. 
  7. ^ "CEMEX and SOS Children's Villages Partner to Provide Long-Term Care for Orphans of..." (Press release). Reuters. June 26, 2008. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ Standun, Tommy (February 29, 2012). "Nursing Southern Somalia Through Civil War And Famine". Huffington Post. 
  9. ^ Source: SOS website
  10. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Africa
  11. ^ SOS Children's Villages in the Americas
  12. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Asia
  13. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Europe
  14. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Oceania

External links[edit]