The first SOS Children’s Village was founded by Dr. 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.
SOS Children’s Villages of India is a part of the worldwide SOS Children’s Village movement and a member of SOS Children's Villages International, the umbrella organisation. SOS Children's Villages India now constitutes the largest operations in the worldwide SOS movement spread in more than 130 countries.
The SOS Children’s Villages of India came into existence when Dr. Hermann Gmeiner visited India in 1963 at the invitation of the first Indian Prime Minister, late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Pandit Nehru was greatly impressed with Dr. Gmeiner’s mission and programmes and that is when the organization SOS Children’s Villages of India was registered as a society and came into being in 1964. The first SOS Children’s Village was established in 1964 at Greenfields in Faridabad in the outskirts of Delhi.
SOS Children’s Villages of India has expanded its services for children in need at a rapid pace. Today, there are 33 SOS Children’s Villages including the newly set up SOS Children's Village in Tirupati, 122 allied projects like Kindergartens, Hermann Gmeiner Schools, Social and Medical Centres, Vocational Training Centres and Outreach Initiatives spread across the country.
The most unique feature of SOS Children's Villages is the home-like environment. Here love and dignity replace abandonment and destitution, solace and hope eliminate fear and desperation.
The SOS Children’s Villages work is based on four principles:
The Mother: Every child has a caring parent.
Brothers and Sisters: Every child has family ties and they grow up with a sense of responsibility and a spirit of sharing.
The House: A place where the child feels secure and has a sense of belonging.
The Village: A community that surrounds the child, so that every child has roots.
We believe that every child has the right to grow up in a family and our unique concept of Family Based Care provides parentless and abandoned children with a nurturing environment where they can grow up to their full potential. An SOS Family consists of 8-10 children, both boys and girls who live with their SOS Mother.
After the age of 14, the boys are sent to a Youth House which takes care of them. At present, 1532 youths are living in the youth facilities. It is the responsibility of SOS Children's Villages India to ensure that children receive the education and skills training them need to be successful and contributing members of society.
We are currently nurturing the third generation of children; our first and second generations are already settled through marriage or career. At present more than 6500 children are growing in SOS Children's Villages which runs across 21 states at our 33 SOS Children Villages.
In addition to the Children’s Villages that form the core of SOS Children’s Villages of India’s work, the organization runs a whole gamut of programmes and facilities in support of socially disadvantaged and impoverished families to help them lead a decent life in the long-term. Family Strengthening Program (FSP) is one such programmes which aims to support families and communities to develop their capacity to effectively protect and care for their children, so that children are able to grow within a caring family environment and are prevented from being abandoned. At present we are reaching out to close to 17000 children at our 33 locations all over the country.
SOS Children’s Villages of India has several community projects which reaches out to marginalized people and provide support to them. The various projects that we run include our Kindergartens, Hermann Gmeiner Schools, Social and Medical Centers, Vocational Training Centers across the country.
Response to Children in EmergenciesWe have always responded promptly to the call of children in distress or rendered homeless or orphaned in natural and manmade disasters because of our presence all over the country and available infrastructure. The response of SOS Children’s Villages of India includes provision of emergency relief items, temporary shelters, child care centres and medical assistance.
During the last two decades, SOS Children’s Villages were established after:
• The Union Carbide gas tragedy in Bhopal in 1984 at Bhopal.
• Disastrous earthquakes in 1991& 2001 at Bhuj & Latur.
• Terrible cyclone in Andhra Pradesh in 1996 at Visakhapatnam.
• Killer cyclone of Orissa in 1999 at Rourkela.
• Devastating Tsunami tragedy in 2004 in South India at Pondicherry and Nagapattinnam.
We are there also to take care of children affected by terrorism at Rajpura in Punjab and in Jammu & Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.
Special care for disabled children
We have a special SOS Children's Village for the developmentally challenged children in Khajurikalan in Bhopal which provides comprehensive care and support facilities to these children. The project has residential facilities, vocational training facilities, in house workshop, agricultural activities, also a training institution for equipping these children with necessary skills so that can lead an independent life.
Recognition and awards
The Government of India has appreciated the work of SOS Children’s Villages of India and has recommended it to other child-care organization in the country to follow this pattern.
• Regional Awardee North in the large NGO category at the India NGO Awards 2007 for setting and promoting best practices, accountability and transparency, by the Resource Alliance in partnership with the Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation.
• Best NGO – 2005-06 by National Trust (Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India) for remarkable work made towards the care of developmentally challenged children through a special project at Khajurikalan
• National Award for Child Welfare – 2003-04 by Ministry of HRD, Government of India.
• State Award for the best work done in Child Welfare by an institution in India, 1997 by the Government of Delhi.
• Best Childcare organization for the year 1998, Cochin by Ministry of HRD, Government of India.
Donations: Regular donations from millions of individuals form the foundation of the financial backbone of SOS Children’s Villages of India’s work. Every contribution, big or small, can make a difference!
Sponsorships: Sponsorships are available for individual children, family houses, SOS Children’s Villages facilities and construction projects.
Corporate Partnership: The work of SOS Children’s Villages of India is supported by a number of socially responsible corporate.
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.