Every day, our caregivers at SOS Children’s Villages ensure that each child and young person grows up with the support and bonds they need to secure their future and become their strongest selves. Many caregivers are inspiring figures who regularly go beyond their duties to make a lasting impact in the lives of children and young people. We saw these qualities in each of the nearly 50 caregivers nominated for this year’s Helmut Kutin Award.
The award’s selection process began with online voting that narrowed a list of finalists from 10 to six. Members of the SOS Children’s Villages International Youth Coalition (IYC)—a group of young people from around the world—then reviewed the six finalists and voted for their favorites. The votes of the IYC members counted for 50% and online votes the other 50%. In consideration of the overwhelming votes for three caregivers, the Board of the Hermann Gmeiner Academy decided to affirm three winners for the Helmut Kutin Award 2021!
Adrolata Nikuze, an SOS mother from SOS Children's Villages Rwanda, has cared for 53 children in close to 30 years at the SOS Children’s Village in Gikongoro. During the genocide against Tutsis in 1994, Adrolata fled with the 10 children in her SOS family and lived in exile to neighboring DR Congo. “When I read her story, I was almost in tears,” says Napoa, an IYC member from Ghana. “To go the extra mile in times of war and flee with 10 children, I don’t know how she managed that. She kept them safe, even in the refugee camp, and just saw them through it all. I think it is a remarkable feat.”
Dina Quispe, an SOS mother from SOS Children's Villages Peru, has raised 30 children at the SOS Children’s Village in Ayacucho, a number of whom had emotional and behavioral problems. Through patience, love and dedication, Dina helped them achieve emotional stability. Vladut, an IYC member from Romania says, “Dina’s story impressed me a lot and reminds me of the SOS mother I grew up with.” Anita, an IYC member from Burkina Faso added, “No matter the background of the children or their challenge,” Dina helped them find their true selves.
Zuhair Zboun, a youth care coordinator from SOS Children's Villages Palestine, has been a mentor to young people in the Palestinian West Bank for some 20 years. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Zuhair mobilized young people in Bethlehem to distribute food packages and financial aid to families in the community. “He was sometimes a supervisor, sometimes a brother, sometimes a friend and sometime a father too,” says Jaya Krishna, an IYC member from Nepal. Such caregivers, he adds, are so important as young people transition out of care to an independent life.
The winners will be honored at the SOS Children’s Villages General Assembly in June 2021. We warmly congratulate the three winners, the finalists and all the nominees. We deeply treasure you and your work, and thank you on behalf of the entire SOS Children’s Villages federation.
Learn more about the award and our 10 finalists.