SOS Children's Villages

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

SOS Children's Villages is a non-governmental , politically and denominationally independent organization that is active in 133 countries. She stands up for the needs of children, mainly by running so-called children's villages . According to his own statement, the central task is "to give children a safe home".

The legal form of SOS Children's Villages varies from country to country and is often an association or a foundation . While mainly orphans live in SOS Children's Villages in developing and emerging countries , SOS Children's Villages in industrialized countries now mostly looks after so-called “social orphans”, i. H. Children whose birth parents are unable to attend to their upbringing and who are placed in the SOS Children's Village through the agency of the youth welfare office . SOS stands for “Societas Socialis”, which means “social community”. The seat of the Austrian as well as the international organization (umbrella organization) is in Innsbruck. In addition, there is a national organization in every country in which SOS Children's Villages is active. The SOS Children's Village e. V. , SOS Children's Villages worldwide, Hermann Gmeiner Fund Germany e. V. as well as SOS Children's Villages worldwide and the Hermann Gmeiner Foundation are signatories of the Transparent Civil Society Initiative .

In May 2021, an external study revealed that children in SOS Children's Villages around the world are said to have been victims of violence and sexual abuse over the past 30 years, and that children in 20 countries are affected in around 50 of 3,000 SOS Children's Village projects. An investigation should clear up the incidents by 2022.

Helmut Kutin was the CEO of SOS Children's Villages worldwide until 2012 . Chairwoman of the Executive Board, as of 2021, of SOS Children's Village e. V. is Sabina Schutter, Gitta Trauernicht is chairwoman of the supervisory board.

Mission statement

50 years of SOS Children's Villages: German commemorative stamp from 1999

“We give families in need to children in need.
We help you to shape your future yourself.
We contribute to the development of their communities. "

- Our mission What we do

The SOS Children's Village is characterized by four principles: Every child needs a mother and grows up most naturally with siblings in their own house within a village community.

The mission statement of the SOS Children's Villages also includes enabling children to live according to their own culture and religion.


Hermann Gmeiner's idea of giving orphaned and abandoned children a new home in the post-war period was implemented in 1949 with the establishment of the SOS Children's Village Association and the establishment of the first SOS Children's Village in Imst in Tyrol . The Swiss children's village in Trogen AR , which was built mainly for war orphans between 1944 and 1946 and was named after the Swiss philanthropist and educatorChildren's Village Pestalozzi ”, served as a model. The first house ("House of Peace") was opened on April 15, 1951. Hermann Gmeiner invested his entire fortune of 600 schillings in the first appeals for donations, which asked to support the association with one schilling a month. These calls received an unexpected response.

The first mother of the children's village was Maria Weber (1919–2011) from Burgenland , who moved to the children's village in Hinterbrühl in 1957 .

The first significant patroness was the German industrialist wife Béatrice von Boch-Galhau , who financed the first children's village in Germany from her assets in 1959 and used her political and business connections to actively support the idea. Thanks to the cooperation with District Administrator Kurt Matthias Linicus, it was possible to build the children's village in Merzig-Hilringen together with the municipality of Merzig despite initial political concerns. Wilhelmine Lübke , the wife of the Federal President at the time, was one of the guests at the inauguration ceremony .

For a long time, SOS Children's Villages was only involved in the construction of SOS Children's Villages. To this day, the SOS Children's Village is a symbol of a protected space in which children can grow up who have been denied this space elsewhere.

In 1953 Hermann Gmeiner went to Lake Caldonazzo for the first time with about 25 children to spend the holidays there. Over time this became a tradition, the "SOS Holiday Village" got bigger and bigger and more and more children from all over Europe came to Caldonazzo, so that now over 1,000 children spend their holidays at Lake Caldonazzo every year.

In 1954, the first German SOS association was founded in Munich, with its headquarters in the Nymphenburg district. Today he is primarily concerned with the 16 German SOS Children's Villages and the numerous additional facilities. The German association also supports the international SOS institutions. When the first non-European SOS Children's Village began to be built in Korea in 1963, SOS Children's Villages worldwide, Hermann Gmeiner Fund Germany, was founded - this second German SOS development association still finances SOS projects all over the world.

The global children's aid organization helps children, young people and families in need in 134 countries with almost 2,500 facilities such as kindergartens, schools, youth housing communities, holiday villages, vocational training centers, social centers, medical centers, emergency aid programs and over 550 SOS Children's Villages.

In 1985, while Hermann Gmeiner was still alive , Helmut Kutin was appointed his successor. Kutin took over the presidency after Gmeiner's death in 1986. From 1986 to July 2012, Kutin was president of the umbrella organization SOS Children's Villages International. Siddhartha Kaul was elected as his successor in 2012 .

In 1995, SOS Children's Villages International was classified as an “NGO with advisory status (Category II) in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations ”. On June 19, 2009, SOS Children's Villages celebrated its 60th anniversary with a big ceremony in Imst.

Financing of the development associations

The SOS Children's Villages Association based in Munich is the world's largest SOS Association. It finances around half of all international SOS facilities. Together with SOS development associations and SOS foundations around the world, the two German SOS associations are responsible for the construction and maintenance of SOS projects on four continents. The organization's income consists of about half of donations, sponsorship contributions, gifts, inheritances, corporate cooperations, foundations on the one hand and public funds on the other.

According to the performance reports of the two German SOS associations, the income in 2012 was as follows: SOS Children's Villages worldwide: 130 million euros, SOS Children's Villages Germany: 119 million euros from donations, bequests, etc., plus 103 million euros from public funds.

The donations to the organization are earmarked. The "processing fee" for administration, marketing and PR is 10 percent, i. H. 90 percent are used for the actual purpose.

In Austria, the organization is the bearer of the donation seal of approval . The two German SOS Children's Villages are bearers of the donation seal of the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI).

SOS Children's Villages around the world

According to the company's own information, there are currently the following SOS facilities worldwide (as of 2016):

  • Children's villages: 567
  • Youth facilities: 675
  • Kindergartens: 216
  • Schools: 183
  • Training centers: 96
  • Social centers and SOS Family Aid projects: 672
  • Medical centers: 79
  • Emergency programs: 25

The organization currently looks after around 1.5 million children and their families around the world.


The first non-European SOS Children's Village was built in South Korea in 1963. Today there are 128 SOS Children's Villages and around 350 SOS additional facilities in Asia. Over 224,000 people receive help to help themselves there. India has the highest number of SOS Children's Villages in the world, 39, of which only Tibetan refugee children live in 8 children's villages. SOS transition homes were opened in Syria to take in unaccompanied refugee children and orphans from civil war, the first of which was in Damascus in 2014.

America and the Caribbean

Almost at the same time as Asia began in 1963, the commitment in South America, where the first SOS Children's Village on the continent was established in Argentina. Today there are 122 SOS Children's Villages and 330 SOS additional facilities in South America and the Caribbean. The highest SOS Children's Village in the world is located in El Alto (Bolivia) (4000 m above sea level).


In 1970 the first African SOS Children's Village was set up on the Ivory Coast . Today there are a total of 134 SOS Children's Villages and over 300 SOS additional facilities in 46 African countries.


  • Twelve SOS Children's Villages have been set up in Austria since 1951.
  • In Germany there are 16 SOS Children's Villages. The first SOS Children's Village in Germany was built in 1956 in Dießen am Ammersee (Bavaria). In 2005 the first urban children's village in Europe was opened in Berlin-Moabit. There the SOS families live in apartments in the middle of a big city. SOS Children's Villages Germany also includes facilities such as village communities for people with disabilities, vocational training centers for the training of socially disadvantaged young people, SOS mothers' centers, youth residential groups and outpatient youth welfare services.
  • The first Eastern European SOS Children's Village was established in 1970 in Doubí, Czechoslovakia .
  • The SOS Children's Villages Switzerland Foundation was established in 1964. It takes over the financing of children's villages and additional facilities all over the world, but does not operate a village itself in Switzerland, as the older Pestalozzi Children's Village, which serves as a model, is at home.
  • In Hungary, the first children's village was built in Battonya near the Romanian border in 1983 . In 1990 two more villages went into operation in Kecskemét and shortly afterwards in Kőszeg . There are also four SOS youth facilities, an SOS kindergarten and an SOS social center.
  • In 1953 Hermann Gmeiner set up a holiday camp in Caldonazzo , Italy , in which over 1,000 children, most of them from SOS Children's Villages across Europe, now spend their summer holidays every year.
  • There are six children's villages in Finland, the first opened in 1962. An SOS Children's Village has existed in Vihanti since 1982.

Allegations and controversies

In 2014 a book by the Tyrolean historian Horst Schreiber was published with the title Dem Schweigen. Experience with SOS Children's Villages , whose study dealt with violent incidents at SOS Children's Villages in Austria.

In January 2018, two Orthodox priests in Ethiopia accused the organization's Gode branch of forcing 30 children of Christian origin to convert to Islam; 120 more are threatened with such a conversion. SOS Children's Villages denied the allegations: "There has never been a forced conversion of children of any religion in an SOS Children's Village". 14 children entrusted to the children's village, whose Christian religion only became known afterwards, attended an “external Muslim Koran school typical for this region” between 2004 and 2007. They were later heard several times and advised that they would be supported by the relief organization in exercising their faith or turning to Christianity. They had declared that they did not want to convert to Christianity, which was respected. However, a place of prayer was built on the grounds of the SOS Children's Village, which has since been closed. This was built in violation of the principles of the organization.

SOS Children's Villages publishes an annual report on violations of children's rights. In 2019, 328 employees in SOS Children's Villages around the world are said to have injured, neglected or sexually abused children. About every second case is about physical violence.

Violence and Abuse in SOS Children's Villages - Investigations 2021

In May 2021, SOS Children's Villages Austria announced that children and young people in SOS Children's Villages around the world had been victims of violence, mistreatment and sexual abuse. According to this, there have been violations of children's rights in 20 countries in the past 30 years, especially in Africa and Asia, and around 50 of 3,000 SOS Children's Village projects are affected. Managing director Elisabeth Hauser spoke of "serious misconduct by employees and serious allegations". That would emerge from a study commissioned by the SOS Children's Villages International Association. In addition, there should have been mismanagement and misappropriation of donations. In some cases, executives are said to have known about some of the incidents, but prevented the processing and prosecution. The organization announced that it would set up an “independent commission” under the leadership of Waltraud Klasnic and a compensation fund “in the millions”. The results of the commission should be available in the second half of 2022.


See also

Web links

Commons : SOS Children's Villages  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: SOS Children's Villages  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. About us - Retrieved on December 17, 2020 (German).
  2. About us. In: SOS Children's Villages V., accessed on July 2, 2019 .
  3. Signatory. In: Transparency International Germany e. V., accessed on July 2, 2019 .
  4. a b c Investigations at aid organization: allegations of abuse against SOS Children's Villages , on, from May 7, 2021. Accessed on May 8, 2021.
  5. ↑ Chairwoman of the board at SOS Children's Villages. In: German Youth Institute. Retrieved April 9, 2021 .
  6. The foundation of successful work - the structure of the association. In: SOS Children's Villages V. Accessed April 9, 2021 .
  8. A loving home for every child! Mission statement of the SOS Children's Villages. SOS Children's Villages worldwide, accessed on January 6, 2017 .
  9. ^ Children's village mother Maria Weber died on ORF -NÖ on December 2, 2011, accessed on December 4, 2011.
  10. The history of the company. In: Villeroy & Boch AG, accessed on July 2, 2019 .
  11. 50 years of SOS Children's Village Saar. In: SOS Children's Villages V., accessed on July 2, 2019 .
  12. a b SOS Children's Village: 60 years of the SOS Holiday Camp Caldonazzo: "That was pure adventure!" July 12, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2016 .
  13. annual report 2013, p. 36.
  14. Archived copy ( Memento from April 4, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Our motto: give children hope and a future. Retrieved on May 7, 2021 (German).
  16. FAQ on donations for an SOS Children's Village
  17. Facts & Figures. In: Retrieved October 25, 2016 .
  19. Syria. SOS Children's Villages, accessed on November 15, 2017 .
  22. Orphans and Child Poverty in Europe | SOS Children's Villages projects. Retrieved May 7, 2021 .
  23. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Switzerland
  24. ^ SOS Children's Villages in Hungary , accessed on June 6, 2011.
  25. SOS Children's Village Vihanti. In: Retrieved November 14, 2018 .
  26. Horst Schreiber: Committed to silence. Experience with SOS Children's Villages. In: transblick . tape 11 . Studienverlag, Innsbruck / Vienna / Bozen 2014, ISBN 978-3-7065-5424-4 .
  27. Agenzia Fides : AFRICA / ETHIOPIA - Small Christian orphans converted to Islam - Agenzia Fides. Retrieved January 5, 2018 .
  28. AFRICA / ETHIOPIA - SOS Children's Villages guarantees future support for children in need , Agenzia Fides, January 8, 2018.
  29. Worldwide allegations of abuse against SOS Children's Villages , on, from May 7, 2021. Accessed on May 8, 2021.
  30. In Africa and Asia: Violence, Abuse in SOS Children's Villages. May 6, 2021, accessed May 6, 2021 .
  31. Konrad Kramar: SOS Children's Villages: Abuse of Children in Africa and Asia. May 6, 2021, accessed May 6, 2021 .
  32. Violence and abuse in SOS Children's Villages in Africa and Asia. May 6, 2021, accessed May 6, 2021 .