The first SOS Children’s Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner, an Austrian philanthropist, in 1949 in Imst, Austria. Since then, the organization has been active and expanding throughout the world. At present, SOS Children’s Villages is active in over 136 countries and territories with over 500 SOS Children’s Villages and 400 SOS Youth Facilities striving for the welfare of the children in need of care and protection. In India, the organization caters to over 25,000 children and there are 32 SOS Children’s Villages in 22 states in India. The Hermann Gmeiner Award recognizes outstanding individuals who were cared for in an SOS Children’s Villages program, and grew up to distinguish themselves through their accomplishments and contributions to their communities.
For over 5 decades they continue to provide children without parental care or at the risk of losing it, a value chain of quality care services that goes beyond childcare alone, to ensuring comprehensive child development. Their long-term customized care interventions such as, Family Like Care, Special Needs Childcare, Foster Care, Short Stay Homes, Family Strengthening, Kinship Care, Emergency Childcare, Education & Youth Skilling and are aimed at transforming lives and making children into self-reliant and contributing members of society. They empower vulnerable families in communities to become financially independent, thereby enabling them to create safe and nurturing spaces for children under their care.
SOS Children’s Villages provide alternative families to children without adequate parental care. Children of different ages and backgrounds live together in a house with a full-time parent, usually a woman who serves as the children’s parent. There are usually 6 to 15 houses in a typical SOS Village. In addition to the Villages, the organization also runs a whole range of programs and facilities to support socially disadvantaged and impoverished families through its subsidized kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, youth facilities, social and medical centers, and emergency response relief operations. In 2017, over 85,000 children and youths are raised in 572 SOS Children’s Villages and over 700 SOS Youth Facilities. Another 3.8 million children and adults received services from their other programs. SOS relies on contributions from governments and private donors. In 2017, the organization’s 350 institutional partnership contracts totaled more than €31 million in institutional funds implemented. Funding from foundations and lotteries totaled nearly €48 million, and corporate partnerships provided more than €49 million in support for SOS Children’s Villages globally. The organization was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2002, and the Princess of Asturias Award of Concord in 2016.
As a child, you need someone who stands by you and believes in you, no matter what. SOS Children’s Villages is here for those children who are growing up without the care and support they need. Our quality care puts their individual needs and best interests first and foremost and provides a nurturing and stable [family] environment. With strong and healthy relationships, each child and young person can grow up with the trust and sense of belonging that is essential for them to become their strongest selves.
SOS Children’s Villages operates in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and encourages governments and partners to implement its principles. Accordingly, we work to ensure that every child is granted the right to grow up in a supportive, positive, and loving environment. Decisions related to children’s care must always have the best interests of each individual child at the center. Every effort should be made to keep families together, and, in cases where separation is necessary, to enable family reunification.
When a child cannot be cared for by the parents, the State is responsible to assess what other options are suitable for the care of the child, including care in the extended family, foster care and other such forms of family-based or family-like alternative care, as well as adoption. Inter-country adoption, which involves the permanent transfer of a child from his or her country of origin to another country, can be an option for some children without parental care when other possible solutions in the country of origin have failed. Nonetheless, SOS Children’s Villages acknowledges the complexity of inter-country adoption and the potential dangers for misuse and illicit practice.
Therefore, SOS Children’s Villages believes that priority should be given to alternative care options in the child’s country of origin (as stated in Article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) such as domestic adoption, foster care, community-based care or family-based care. Should inter-country adoption be considered, the well-established internationally recognized treaties and conventions serve as guidelines for best practice. The most notable of these is the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation Regarding Inter-country Adoption (otherwise known as The Hague Convention).
SOS Children’s Villages strongly urges that if and when inter-country adoptions are deemed necessary, such adoptions occur between states that have ratified the Hague Convention. Private adoptions through non-accredited agencies should never be allowed, as they involve demonstrably greater risks of the illicit practice. Finally, SOS Children’s Villages recognizes that adoption adds an extra layer of complexity to a child’s life, particularly in the case of inter-country adoptions, whereby children are uprooted from their countries and communities of origin. SOS Children’s Villages advocates for comprehensive post-adoption support for everyone involved in the adoption, particularly the children. Such services must include access to mental health providers, family and child counseling, adoptive family community organizations, and support groups, so as to facilitate a child’s integration into his or her adoptive family.
Paired with our unparalleled experience in care and prevention, your contribution makes a real difference in the lives of children and communities around the world.
Children who are neglected, abandoned, abused, orphaned or displaced are everywhere, but we don’t always see them. They are invisible. You can change that. Reporting abuse or neglect! Children have the right to live in a safe environment. Nobody should mistreat or hurt them – physically, sexually, or with abusive words. If you are aware of abuse or neglect – or have experienced it yourself – speak out.
SOS Children’s Villages is the world’s largest non-governmental organisation focused on supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it. Founded in 1949 as a non-denominational organisation, today we have a presence in 136 countries and territories.
No child should grow up alone. Yet an estimated 220 million children worldwide are growing up without the care they need. These are the children we work to support through our programs, so they can thrive and build their future.
All children have a right to have all they need to grow and develop. Their fundamental rights are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes articles establishing rights to:
- live with a family that cares for them
- live in a safe and clean environment
- have nutrition and healthcare
- be educated
- play and rest
- give their opinion and be listened to
Yet 220 million children, 1 in 10 of the world’s children, are not having their rights fulfilled. They are growing up alone.
Being alone is not just about having people around. It’s about being listened to. It’s about having a supportive community and friends. It’s about feeling connected. It’s about knowing that you have someone who cares for you.
WEBSITE : www.sos-childrensvillages.org
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