What we are
The first SOS Children’s Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1949 in Imst, Austria. He was committed to helping children in need – children who had lost their homes, their security and their families as a result of the Second World War. With the support of many donors and co-workers, our organisation has grown to help children all over the world.
We take action for children as an independent non-governmental social development organisation. We respect varying religions and cultures, and we work in countries and communities where our mission can contribute to development. We work in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and we promote these rights around the world.
With the SOS Children’s Village concept, our organisation pioneered a family approach to the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. This concept is based on four principles:
The SOS mother builds a close relationship with every child entrusted to her, and provides the security, love and stability that each child needs. As a childcare professional, she lives together with her children, guides their development, and runs her household independently. She recognises and respects each child’s family background, cultural roots and religion.
Girls and boys of different ages live together as brothers and sisters, with natural brothers and sisters always staying within the same SOS family. These children and their SOS mother build emotional ties that last a lifetime.
The house is the family’s home, with its own unique feeling, rhythm and routine. Under its roof, children enjoy a real sense of security and belonging. Children grow and learn together, sharing responsibilities and all the joys and sorrows of daily life.
SOS families live together, forming a supportive village environment where children enjoy a happy childhood. The families share experiences and offer one another a helping hand. They also live as integrated and contributing members of the local community. Through his or her family, village and community, each child learns to participate actively in society.
What we want for the world’s children
Family is the heart of society. Within a family each child is protected and enjoys a sense of belonging. Here, children learn values, share responsibilities and form life-long relationships. A family environment gives them a solid foundation on which to build their lives.
Through love and acceptance, emotional wounds are healed and confidence is built. Children learn to trust and believe in themselves and others. With this self-assurance each child can recognise and fulfil his or her potential.
Each child’s voice is heard and taken seriously. Children participate in making decisions that affect their lives and are guided to take a leading role in their own development. The child grows with respect and dignity as a cherished member of his or her family and society.
Children are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation and are kept safe during natural disaster and war. Children have shelter, food, health care and education. These are the basic requirements for the sound development of all children.
What we do
We work for children who are orphaned, abandoned or whose families are unable to care for them. We give these children the opportunity to build lasting relationships within a family.
Our family approach in the SOS Children’s Village is based onfour principles: Each child needs a mother, and grows up most naturally with brothers and sisters, in their own house, within a supportive village environment.
We enable children to live according to their own culture and religion, and to be active members of the community.
We help children to recognise and express their individual abilities, interests and talents.
We ensure that children receive the education and skills training they need to be successful and contributing members of society.
We share in community life and respond to the social development needs of society’s most vulnerable children and young people.
We establish facilities and programmes that aim to strengthen families and prevent the abandonment of children.
We join hands with community members to provide education and health care, and respond to emergencies.
These are the core beliefs and attitudes on which our organisation has been built, and they are the cornerstones of our success. These enduring values guide our actions, decisions and relationships as we work towards fulfilling our mission.
We have challenged traditional methods of orphan care and continue to pioneer innovative child-care approaches. We help children who have no one else to turn to. With a sensitive yet confident approach we are determined to question, learn and take action for children around the world.
We are dedicated to helping generations of children have a better life. We do this by nurturing lasting relationships with our donors, our co-workers and the communities in which we are rooted. We believe that by making a long-term commitment we have a meaningful and sustainable impact.
We believe in each other’s abilities and potential. We support and respect one another, and build an environment where we can approach our responsibilities with confidence. In an atmosphere of trust we are inspired to share our experiences and learn from each other.
Since 1949 we have built a foundation of trust with donors, governments, and other partners who support us in our mission. Our greatest responsibility is guaranteeing the well-being of children by ensuring high standards of care. In doing this we are committed to using all funds and resources wisely, with respect and accountability.