‘In May 2022, ProCharter, agreed to support SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka with sponsorship. This provided children of SOS Children’s Villages Nuwaraeliya – with nutritious meals, for one whole year.
The sponsorship provided ensured that a percentage of the total cost of meals was covered, for a total of 76 children. The children who benefitted from the sponsorship included 20 boys and 19 girls under the age of 12 years, and 5 boys and 32 girls above 12 years.
“It’s with gratitude that we here at SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka, reminisce on the partnership and the generosity of ProCharter. Here’s to your generosity that would forever be fondly remembered by our children,” said a spokesman for the charity.’– SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Village at Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The second SOS Children’s Village in Sri Lanka is situated on 2.5 acres of land at Bambarakelle, Nuwara Eliya (180 km from Colombo), in the central hill country of Sri Lanka. It is 6,283 feet above sea level, with the coldest climate in the country.
SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya was inaugurated in April 1984. In 1983, the country faced a difficult situation, when an armed group unleashed hostility between the two main communities – Sinhalese and Tamil. SOS Children’s Villages were able to bring children of these two communities together as one family – hence it was a timely project.
At SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya a total of ten families, six Sinhala and four Tamil were established. We were able to build a strong and united SOS Family, while the same two communities unleashed war in the country.
Throughout the long years of the Sri Lanka civil war that the country was unfortunate to go through, SOS Family Nuwara Eliya, was setting an example as to how the two communities could live as one with understanding and peace.
Five mothers who were the first group of mothers are now retired from active service as SOS Mothers and are living in the Mothers’ Retirement Home. SOS Kindergarten, SOS Youth Facilities for Boys and Girls, FSP Programmes and Mothers’ Retirement Home are the other ancillary projects in Nuwara Eliya.
SOS Children’s Villages
The first SOS Children’s Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Tyrol, Austria, in 1949. As a child welfare worker, Gmeiner saw how children who were orphaned as a result of World War II suffered. He was committed to helping them by building loving families and supportive communities.
Born to a big family of farmers in Vorarlberg (present-day Austria), Gmeiner was a talented child and won a scholarship to attend grammar school. His mother died while he was still a young boy, and his eldest sister Elsa took on the task of caring for the smallest of the children.
Having experienced the horrors of war himself as a soldier in World War II, he was then confronted with the isolation and suffering of the many war orphans and homeless children as a child welfare worker after the end of the Second World War. In his conviction that help can never be effective as long as the children have to grow up without a home of their own, he set about implementing his idea for SOS Children’s Villages.
With just 600 Austrian schillings (approx. 40 US dollars) in his pocket Hermann Gmeiner established the SOS Children’s Village Association in 1949, and in the same year the foundation stone was laid for the first SOS Children’s Village in Imst, in the Austrian state of Tyrol. His work with the children and development of the SOS Children’s Village organization kept Hermann Gmeiner so busy that he finally decided to discontinue his medical degree course.
In the following decades his life was inseparably linked with his commitment to a family-centred child-care concept based on the four pillars of a mother, a house, brothers and sisters, and a village. Given his exclusive focus on the need to help abandoned children, the rest of his biography reads like the history of SOS Children’s Villages themselves. He served as Village Director in Imst, organized the construction of further SOS Children’s Villages in Austria, and helped to set up SOS Children’s Villages in many other countries of Europe.
In 1960 SOS-Kinderdorf International was established in Strasbourg as the umbrella organization for SOS Children’s Villages with Hermann Gmeiner as the first president. In the following years the activities of SOS Children’s Villages spread beyond Europe. The sensational “grain of rice” campaign raised enough funds to permit the first non-European SOS Children’s Village to be built in Daegu, Korea in 1963, and SOS Children’s Villages on the American and African continents followed.
By 1985 the result of Hermann Gmeiner’s work was a total of 233 SOS Children’s Villages in 85 countries. In recognition of his services to orphaned and abandoned children he received numerous awards and was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, he was always at pains to stress that it was only thanks to the support of millions of people that it had been possible to achieve the goal of providing abandoned children with a permanent home, and that still applies today. Hermann Gmeiner died in Innsbruck in 1986. He is buried at SOS Children’s Village Imst.
‘All the children of the world are our children.’– Hermann Gmeiner, Founder
SOS Children’s Villages is currently active in 132 countries and territories. 438 SOS Children’s Villages and 346 SOS Youth Facilities provide more than 60,000 children and youths in need with a new home. More than 131,000 children/youths attend SOS Kindergartens, SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools and SOS Vocational Training Centres. Around 397,000 people benefit from the services provided by SOS Medical Centres, 115,000 people from services provided by SOS Social Centres. SOS Children’s Villages also helps in situations of crisis and disaster through emergency relief programmes. – Wikipedia
Photos © SOS Children’s Villages