Who We Are

Sixty Years of History

Hermann Gmeiner with ChildIn 1949, Hermann Gmeiner laid the foundations of the first SOS Children’s Villages in Imst, Austria where forty Austrian children would find homes after the desolation of World War II. Just a few years later, SOS Villages had been created in Germany, France, and Italy, all serving children who had been orphaned or abandoned.

The mission Hermann Gmeiner envisioned was simple, but life changing: to provide children in need with a mother, a home, brothers and sisters, and a supportive community to grow in. Mr. Gmeiner’s idea proved to be a sustainable model for caring for children - unlike the institutions that were the standard of the time - and by the early sixties, the Austrian movement had expanded to Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

An International Presence

The spread of SOS Children’s Villages was rapid, as the idea caught fire amongst sponsors, social workers, and government officials. It was clear to all that SOS model worked, and publicity from the opening of each new Village spurred the creation of more and more Villages.

Soon, SOS Children’s Villages was branching out into local communities, creating family strengthening programs that cultivated safe, loving environments for families to prevent child abandonment. Medical centers, schools, emergency relief programs, and social centers also came to life as SOS began to help not only orphaned and abandoned children, but all children and families in need.

SOS Children’s Villages Today

SOS Children's Villages EthiopiaToday SOS Children’s Villages cares for over 80,000 children in 133 countries.

Our mission continues to be to build families for children in need, while helping them to shape their own futures and sharing in the development of their communities. Our vision for the world’s children is that every child should belong to a family and grow with love, respect, and security.

These tenets of our organization, developed by Hermann Gmeiner over sixty years ago, continue to define who we are and how we approach quality care for children.

Watch the video below to learn more about SOS Children's Villages: