SOS-Children’s Villages

In 1949, Hermann Gmeiner laid the foundation stone for the first SOS Children’s Village in the small Tyrolean town of Imst (Austria). Shocked at the plight of so many children left orphaned and homeless after the Second World War, he pioneered a family approach to child care based on four principles.

The goal at all SOS Children’s Villages is to prepare and equip the children for an independent future. Each child receives education and training according to his or her needs, so that when the time comes to leave the SOS Children’s Village, they are able to stand on their own two feet and achieve the goals of self-reliance, financial independence and social integration.

The four principles of SOS Children’s Villages

  • The Mother: Each child has a caring parent
    The most important person for the children’s personal development on the road to self-reliance is their SOS mother. She builds an emotional bond with each child entrusted to her care and provides the security they need. She is a child care professional and recognises and respects each child?s family background, cultural roots and religion.
  • Brothers and sisters: Family ties are built
    Girls and boys of different ages live together as brothers and sisters. Siblings are not separated when they arrive at the village and live together in the same SOS family. These children, together with their SOS mother, build emotional ties that last a lifetime.
  • The House: Each family creates its own home
    The house is the family’s home, with its own unique feeling, rhythm and routine. Under its roof, children enjoy a real sense of security and belonging. Children grow and learn together, sharing responsibilities and the joys and sorrows of daily life.
  • The Village: The SOS family is part of the community
    The SOS Children’s Village is an integral part of the community in its location, design and every other aspect. SOS families are grouped together, enabling them to share experiences and offer one another a helping hand. Within this supportive environment children learn to trust and believe in others and themselves.
    Become a donor now of a SOS-Children’s village, click [here]
    to help a child in need or make a donation to Giro 2280. (please mention:

Driving for SOS-Childrens Villages drives for SOS-Children’s villages!
Sun, sea and beaches! This is one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of travelling. The expedition we are making is an extraordinary one. We are driving for SOS-Children’s Villages and will visit a few projects on our way to China. By filming on location and describe the situation the kids are in, we can show the world that, if you donate money to SOS-Children’s villages, your money is well spent. So if you belong to the group that doesn’t donate money, because you don’t know what is happening to your money… keep following us all the way to China!

Make a donation to SOS-Kinderdorpen on Giro 2280 in Amsterdam.(dutch only) International visitors can surf to for more information.

Our first visit to a village: Istanbul

Our impression!
We were greeted by ten or so children who asked where we were from and what were doing. A nicer welcome we could not imagine. We were brought to Ms Sevim Tanik the director of the Village.
After a complete explanation of the history and the work of SOS in Turkey we got a tour of the village by the guys from from the van and a couple of girls. We were taken to the ‘girls youth house’ where the girls of 16 and older live together with a teamleader. Proud, the girls showed their rooms and we were impressed by the ‘feeling of being at home’ situation of the neat houses.

After the girls youth house we went to visit a mother. She looked after ten little children who recently had lost their parents. We also noticed that our tourgroup looked after the little ones as well, later explained as we are one big family. We were accompanied by more mothers and proud all the kids told us who their mother was! We were sold…. the idea of creating a long lasting family situation works.

After a cup of tea we were asked to go to a nearby sportsground for a bit of football. But being dutch doesn’t mean you can play football at all (except if your name is Hans van Breukelen or Marco van Basten) but we had great fun trying the penalties. An hour or so later we left under loud cheers and a group of singing Children. We were silent for a while. As we had no idea what to expect…once thin is certain… we are very impressed by the work of SOS.

Our visit to SOS-Lahore

SOS Lahore, our impression
A father of three childeren decides he wants to get of his wife as he wants to marry another women. While his wife is breastfeeding the youngest of the three, the man bursts into the room holding a bucket of burning oil. The women sees her man coming and is just able to throw her child away and safe it from drama that happens next. The mother doesn’t survive the attack while her children are the only witnesses of the whole ordeal. The father is sent to prison and the children need a new place to stay. The three children are brought to the SOS-Children’s Village in Lahore where they are placed in a family with a mother and a few brothers and sisters. They are guided by a psychologist and learn to deal with their past. The SOS-Children’s village and especially the mother is looking after the children for two years now. We saw how much care and love they receive from their new mother. They have become her children and for the children its their mother. The children are in peace with what happend and grow up in a safe environment where they can go to school and are looked after. We were silent for a bit after hearing the story and visiting the mother with her children.
SOS has 7 villages throughout Pakistan. Every village takes care of about 200 children. As well as in Lahore, the village we are visiting. SOS-Children’s village has 16 houses. Every mother in the village looks after 10 to 12 children. All houses have a girlsroom, a boysroom, a room for the mother, a livingroom and a kitchen. The mother takes care for breakfast in the morning, provides lunchpackages for at school, cooks at night for the children and give a lot of love to the children. This village has also medical, dentist and schoolfacilities. These facilities are not only for the children from the village but also for children from the area. The school for example has a capacity for 1500 children. Only children from families that have a montly income less then 5000 roepies (about 85 euro) can join the school. SOS makes it possible for children from poor families to attend class. In total the school had a capacity for 1500 children, only 100 children come from the SOS-Village. We decide to have a look at the the kindergarden classes and come across an amazing story.

Today a new girl has started. She is 8 years old and has never been to school. She was found by a man living on the side of the street together with her family. The man wanted to do something for the child and went to SOS-Children’s Village. Their they agreed that going to school and living on the street could not be combined and that the family needed a home. The man wanted to be a family sponsor so he arranges a small home, paid the first month rent and provided fruit for the father to sell. He then could earn money for the next months rent. The girl was given a uniform and we saw her attending her first day of school in her live (on the school of SOS Chilsdren’s villages). Everything was new for her and she could not stop smiling. She will be given special attention as she needs to catch up with the other children. She was lucky to find a sponsor in the man who found her as there are many many more children that live on the street in Pakistan.

So SOS-Childrens Villages does not only provide a long lasting home for orphan children but does a lot more. They look after Afghan refugee children by providing medical care, nursing homes and play grounds. In total there are more the 6 million refugees in Pakistan. SOS also has a lot of rural projects running where they built schools with the help of locals, guide people by obtaining work or make it possible for them to start their own business.

We had long conversations with the very nice and enthousiastic people who work here, talked with the children and are very much impressed with the work of SOS-Childrens Villages. We know that all donations are going directly to what is needed the most. Providing long lasting homes for those who need it the most, scholing for kids and rural projects in area’s that are struck by poverty. So if you want to become a donor, have a look on their website for more information: or

Dutch visitors can make donations to:

Giro 2280