Dr. Hermann Gmeiner - A visionary who foresaw a loving home for all children at riskJune 22, 2012, 7:02 pm
Home is where the heart is-the many thousands of children who have found loving homes in the many SOS Children’s Villages around the world stand witness to thistime tested statement.
The founding father of SOS Children’s Villages, Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, whose birthday is celebrated this month, was himself an orphan. Knowing only too well how a child’s world falls apart when he or she loses his or her mother, his brainchild –the SOS concept - took into account the benefits provided by a family environment.
Born on June 23, 1919 in Vorarlberg, Austria, he was just five years old when his mother passed away. His 16-year-old sister Elsa took the mother’s place for her younger brothers and sisters. Eventually she became the role model for Dr.Gmeiner’s idea of an ideal SOS mother.
In 1946, Dr. Gmeiner began his studies in medicine with the goal of becoming a paediatrician. At the same time, he was also engaged in youth welfare work and was exposed to the plight of the youth and children in a war-ravaged world. When he saw the plight of destitute children he realised that providing children with basic needs was not enough. He felt only a proper home with a caring mother and companionship of siblings could ensure the essential physical, mental and emotional growth of a child.
He founded the first SOS Children’s Villages in 1949, at Imst, Tyrol with the support of many friends and donors. Soon he dedicated himself entirely to constructing more Children’s Villages in Austria and many other European Countries.
The SOS idea was also greeted enthusiastically in many other countries around the world. Soon SOS Children’s Villages came up in parts of Asia, and Africa and South America as well.
SOS Children’s Villages International, the umbrella organization of SOS Children’s Villages, was founded in 1960 and from then till 1984, Prof. Dr. Hermann Gmeiner coordinated the worldwide task as its President.
In recognition of his lifelong dedication, he was conferred numerous honorary degrees and awards. He was an Honorary member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Doctor of two Universities, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the Federal Republic of Germany, among many others. Dr. Hermann Gmeiner died in 1986.
SOS Children’s Villages works in more than 130 countries to support families and help children at risk grow up in a loving home. In a world filled with poverty, violence, and injustice, the greatest victims are often children. For more than 60 years, SOS has worked with partners in each community to either help families care for their children or to provide an alternative, for instance an SOS family, in which the love of a carer is essential. Everything is based on the best interests of the child, and each has an individual development plan. SOS focuses on the care, health, education and general development of each individual.
Uniquely, SOS provides practical support over the long term, so that each child or young person can develop resilient relationships and face life’s challenges in the future. In turn, this strengthens communities and the whole of society. SOS also speaks up on behalf of children to governments and international organisations, striving to end violations of children’s rights and improve living conditions worldwide. To do everything SOS does, SOS needs the support of partners and donors to give thousands of vulnerable children a loving home and a second chance just to be a child.
SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka was established in 1979 and for the past 33 years SOS Children’s Villages has taken action for over 700 children. At present, SOS Children’s VillagesSri Lanka is taking action on behalf of over 3600 children, under our Family Based Care (890) and Families of Origin (2798) programmes.
As part of its continuous efforts to provide a loving home to every child at risk of losing parental care, SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka has begun construction of its 6th SOS Children’s Village in Jaffna.
The SOS Children’s Village, coming up in Nayanmarkattu, Nallur (just 4.5 km’s away from Jaffna town), will have 12 SOS family houses, a SOS kindergarten for the children in the care of SOS families as well as children in the neighbourhood and a SOS Youth facility. The children who were formerly under the care of the SOS Emergency Relief Programme, Chettikulam will move in to this SOS Children’s Village once it’s completed. At present, 75 children who have lost their parents are cared for at 4 rented premises in Jaffna. The Jaffna SOS Children’s Village is slated to be fully operational by July 2013.
The Chettikulam project was put in place at the Manik Farm IDP camp at the end of the war- in fact, SOS Children’s Villages had the only residential facility for unaccompanied children within the IDP camp during this period and provided immediate support to 234 children out of which 160 were re-unified with their families of origin.
The SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka is governed by a Board of Directors and the Board is headed by Mrs.Malsiri Dias. SOSChildren’s Villages Sri Lanka is present in Piliyandala, NuwaraEliya, Galle, Anuradhapura and Moneragala and has 45 ancillary projects including the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Piliyandala (under an agreement with the Ministry of Education), a fully-fledged SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala (registered with the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka) for youth living below the poverty line, SOS youth facilities for boys and girls, SOS kindergartens, SOS Family Strengthening Programmes, SOS medical centres, a SOS day care centre, SOS social centres and SOS mothers’ clubs.
SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka was also instrumental in constructing 984 Tsunami houses and 8 social centres in the Eastern Province. The Al-Misbah School at Kalmunai, which was destroyed during the catastrophe was reconstructed by SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka and was dedicated for the benefit of over 1000 students of the area.
The social development initiatives actioned by SOS Children’s Villages creates a lasting legacy of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner’s vision. By 2020, SOS Children’s Villages hopes to take action on behalf 1 million children worldwide.
What’s Sri Lanka’s best overseas Test win?
Last Updated Jun 18 2013 | 05:58 pm
Await Breaking News...