SOS Children’s Villages of India celebrated its Founder Father Dr. Hermann Gmeiner birthday, recently, with much fanfare. This day is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over the world in all the children’s villages as ‘SOS Day’.
SOS Children’s Villages, founded by Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, has been engaged in providing secure and a loving homes to children without parental care and those who are at the risk of abandonment across the globe, for nearly seven decades now.
Dr. Gmeiner, felt very strongly about children in need of care and protection and believed that all children deserve to be brought up with the love of a mother and protection of, and bend of family and community. He pioneered the concept of bringing up abandoned and parentless children in SOS Families and Villages. The mission was to nurture such children with love, respect, security and dignity in a home-like environment with a caring “Mother” and framework of sibling relationships, providing them emotional security for a lifetime.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Anuja Bansal, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India said, “At SOS India, which has the largest operation of Children’s Villages and other allied facilities set up within the SOS Federation, we strive to follow the guidance of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner. His un-paralleled work has always been a source of inspiration for us. Especially in India, where we have about 17 crore children in need of care and protection against violence, trafficking, abuse and exploitation, we are assured that the SOS model of family like care can contribute greatly to reduce this grief. We try and stand true to our core value of providing ‘A loving home for every child”.
With a large global presence in 135 countries and territories, a typical SOS Children’s Villages consists of a gated community of 15-20 family homes with a “mother” in each home, nurturing a group of 8 to 10 children, who live together as brothers and sisters. The first Children’s Village in India at Greenfields (Faridabad) was established in 1964. SOS Children’s Villages is the largest and one of the few NGOs, which not only raises funds but also runs and manages all its programmes, ensuring transparency and good governance.
In 32 SOS Children’s Villages across India, the SOS Founder’s Day celebrations began with a traditional welcome to its guests (including donors and local dignitaries), garlanding and paying floral tribute to Dr. Gmeiner. It was followed by a speech on the philosophy of Dr. Gmeiner and his lifelong passion for providing loving and caring home to parentless and abandoned children. Cultural programmes were organised, settled youths from the project addressed the gathering and inspired their younger brothers and sisters. The celebrations also included distribution of prizes to children who have done well academically and in co-curricular activities.