SOS Children’s Villages over the world

SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. It was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Imst, Austria. According to the Financial Times, the 2004 turnover of SOS Children’s Villages altogether was US$ 807 million, and it was ranked 33 out of a 100 global NGOs for “global accountability”.[1] Its international umbrella organisation, SOS-Kinderdorf International, was founded in 1960, after national associations had been established in France, Germany and Italy in addition to the original Austrian association. Over a hundred national associations across the world have since been established.

It became home for children, who had lost their families as a result of the Second World War. Hermann Gmeiner’s idea conquered the hearts of his compatriots quickly and won powerful support in Europe and on other continents.

SOS Children’s Villages through the years:

1949: SOS Children’s Villages is founded in Austria by Hermann Gmeiner, with the first SOS Children’s Village based in Imst, Austria.

1955: The first SOS Youth Facility is established in Innsbruck, Austria. SOS Children’s Villages associations are founded in France, Germany and Italy.

1960s: SOS Children’s Villages International is established as the umbrella organisation for all SOS Children’s Villages associations; SOS Children´s Villages begins working in Latin America, starting with Uruguay.

1963: The first SOS Children’s Villages in Asia are established in South Korea and India.

1970s: First African SOS Children’s Village is built in Côte d’Ivoire; first programmes are started in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

1985: Helmut Kutin succeeds Hermann Gmeiner as President of SOS Children’s Villages International.

1986: Hermann Gmeiner dies on 26 April 1986, having established around 230 SOS Children’s Villages all over the world. Both SOS Children’s Villages and Hermann Gmeiner himself have been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

1991: SOS Children’s Villages reopens in Czechoslovakia, and the first SOS Children’s Villages in Poland and the Soviet Union are started; SOS Children´s Villages programmes are started in Bulgaria and Romania; the first SOS Children’s Village in the USA is founded.

1995: SOS Children’s Villages International achieves UN status, becoming an “NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations”.

2003: SOS Children´s Villages Family Strengthening Programmes are established.

2005: Following the tsunami disaster in Asia, SOS Children’s Villages starts the largest emergency relief and reconstruction programme in the organisation´s history, with programmes in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

2009: The 500th SOS Children’s Village is opened and the organisation turns 60. More than 73,400 children and young people have stable homes and better childhoods through SOS Children’s Villages homes and youth facilities in 132 countries and territories.


2010: Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, over 500 unaccompanied children were given a temporary home in the SOS Children’s Villages in Santo and Cap Haitien. Thousands of Haitian children were fed through the SOS Children´s Villages’ emergency nutrition programme.

2012: In June, SOS Children’s Villages International held its 19th General Assembly and elected Siddhartha Kaul to succeed Helmut Kutin  as president.

2013: Over 82,000 children and youth were being raised and cared for in 554 SOS Children’s Villages and over 600 SOS Youth Facilities worldwide. Another 328,000 children and adults benefitted from SOS family strengthening programmes.

2014: SOS Children’s Villages associations from 11 countries shared good practices in creating community-integrated Family Strengthening and Family Based Care programmes in urban settings.