A brief history of the SOS Children's Villages International Hermann Gmeiner, an Austrian philanthropist, is the man behind the idea of providing care and protection to the children orphaned due to natural and man-made disasters. As a Child Welfare Officer during the Second World War, he knew the sufferings of the orphaned children. Hermann Gmeiner believed that there is no alternative to a home and parental care for the holistic development of the children.The SOS Children's Villages Association was formed in 1949 by him. The same year the first SOS Children's Village was established at Imst, Tyrol in Austria. In the year 1960, the SOS Children's Villages International was established at Strasbourg in France. Since then it went global and has a presence in 135 countries with 571 Villages.
SOS Children's Villages of India The SOS Children's Villages of India was established in the year 1964 and served for more than 50 years now. The first village was established at Green Fields, Faridabad near Delhi. In India, there are 32 SOS Children's Villages spread across 22 States with more than 400 Homes. They cater to the care and the protection of more than 7000 children in the Homes and another 18000 children through various other programmes taken up by them. The organization is giving a new life to the children who are otherwise doomed to a life without any parental care and protection.
Concept The concept is on the importance of the parental care and protection of the children for their physical, mental and emotional development. Every child should grow along with brothers and sisters in the home with love, respect, and security.The children are looked after until they are settled in life and integrated into the society. The oath dedicated to the children by the former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
From today onwards
I will make my mother happy,
If my mother is happy, my home is happy.
If my home is happy, my society is happy.
If the societies are happy, State will be happy.
If the State is happy, the country is happy.
The concept of the SOS Children's Village is a "Family Based Care" where the mother takes care of her children. The villages will have separate Homes for each family. The family consists of a mother, brothers, and sisters. All the Homes are situated in the Village. The mother will take care of them by cooking for them and helping them in all their activities just like their own mother. Every home in the Village consists of three rooms. One room is for the boys, one for the girls and one for the mother. There will be a kitchen and one hall for dining. A kitchen garden is in the backyard where vegetables are grown by them for their own use. All the decisions regarding the education of the children are taken by the mother in consultation with the children and the counselors.The religion and culture of each child are respected.
The "Family Strengthening Programme" is another initiative of this organization. This programme is aimed at helping the children of the families which are facing economic difficulties, have only one parent or unstable relation of the parents. The children of such families do not get adequate care and protection and there is always a danger of abandoning the children. The organization provides counseling to such families on parenting, resolving of family problems and training to the parents in skills to earn money to maintain their families. The children of such families are provided education and access to medical facilities. The children stay with their parents and get the necessary help from the organization.
Role of the mother The mother in an SOS Children's Village is the pivot of the organization.She is not the biological mother of the children who are under her care. The responsibility on her is far greater than a biological mother who cares for two or three children. The mother in SOS Children's Village Home will have more children from different circumstances under her care. She has to be well trained to handle different types of problems from the children. The mothers are selected based on certain guidelines as per the SOS Children Villages Organization and are imparted training on various aspects of parenting theoretically and practically by working under a mother. Salute to the mothers for their commitment to providing care and protection to the children under their care and see to it that they are made self-sufficient and fully integrated into the society.
Location of SOS Children's Villages in India There are 32 SOS Children's Villages in India spread over 22 States. They cater to 25000 children through Family Based Care and Family Strengthening Programme. The SOS Children's Villages locations are,
The SOS Children's Village in Khajuri Kalan, Madhya Pradesh is meant for the differently abled children. The Village contains 14 Homes and is planned in such a way that there are no steps but only slopes for the easy movement of the wheelchairs.The bathrooms are also designed for wheelchairs or walking sticks which the children use. The children here are given vocational training in crafts.
Hermann Gmeiner Schools
The organization runs schools called Hermann Gmeiner Schools for the children of SOS Village and the children of the neighborhood in the following places.
These schools provide Primary and Secondary School Education.The syllabus is framed based on the respective Government rules. Apart from the schools, the organization runs other allied schools imparting education in teachers training, nursing, and vocational training. They are,
Admission to SOS Children's Village The children who are orphaned, abandoned are admitted after a thorough investigation. The age limit is generally 10 years which will be relaxed in the case of siblings and deserving cases. The siblings are not separated and kept in the same home as far as possible.The boys in the Home are shifted to a Youth Facility after they attain the age of 14 years. The children will be taken care of in all aspects of nutrition, education and all other requirements until they are able to live by themselves and are fully integrated into the society. Many of the children brought up are well educated and holding good positions in the society with professional qualifications also.
Appeal The SOS Children's Villages are well organized for the task they have taken up. This organization is giving new life to the children otherwise doomed without any care and protection. I myself visited the SOS Children's Village at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Those of you who read this article are requested to visit one of the SOS Children's Villages listed above which is nearer to you and see for yourselves the work they are doing and encourage the organization. The organization runs with the help of the Government in terms of land and financial assistance from the Corporate and individuals.