July 23 2018

Hermann Gmeiner Award Winner: Maria Anggelina

Angge grew up at an SOS Children’s Village in Indonesia and now helps human trafficking survivors reclaim their dignity.

Maria “Angge” Anggelina grew up in the SOS Children’s Village in Flores, Indonesia. She is a remarkable woman and has dedicated her life to helping women who have suffered at the hands of human traffickers. She works to restore the lives and dignity of Indonesian women who are fortunate enough to have returned to their home villages.

In many ways, Angge, now 35, can identify with the women she is supporting. “I’m really grateful to have grown up in an SOS family,” she says. “I believe if I didn’t live in the SOS Children’s Village Flores, I could have been a victim of human trafficking.”

Village Director of SOS Children's Villages Flores shares "Angee … embodies our commitment at SOS Children's Villages to raise independent and open-minded individuals who contribute to society." 

In recognition of her work as a champion for marginalized women, Angge was voted as one of two winners of the 2018 Hermann Gmeiner Award. The bi-annual award honors inspiring women and men who were cared for in SOS Children's Villages and who have gone on to become role models in their communities. This year's winners were chosen from eight finalists selected from 71 nominees from 30 countries.

A Brave Person Who Takes Action

Angge and the organization she works with, Good Shepherd Sisters, carry out their work in Batam, an island in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago. Poor women and girls from eastern Indonesia looking for work have fallen victim to traffickers who lure them with the prospects of a better life and higher wages.

“People who are taken away from eastern Indonesia are often forced to become housekeepers and to work without pay,” explains Angge. “They are prepared by the traffickers to be sent abroad. But those without legal documentation are sent home by ship. Sometimes they are even thrown overboard in the middle of the sea.”

In Batam, the Good Shepherd Sisters run a women’s shelter and provide support services to those who have survived this modern-day slavery. Through their victim recovery program, the women receive psychological support, followed by training to give them skills they can use when they return to home.

Angge also helps to raise awareness in the community, particularly with parents, about the dangers of human trafficking and violence. She conducts sessions for children about sexual harassment and child exploitation.

“Angge is a brave person who reveals the truth and takes action,” says Sister Luciana Rahayu, a women’s shelter counselor at Good Shepherd Sisters. “She often doesn’t even think of herself.”

Angge knows that there are risks in speaking out against human trafficking. But her deep faith gives her the courage to stand against this inhumane trade and help survivors. She draws inspiration from Sister Mary Euphrasia, a founder of the Good Shepherd Sisters, who often said, “A person is of more value than the whole world.”

“Don’t Let Your Past Hold You Back”

In the SOS Children’s Village in Flores, Angge is viewed as a role model particularly in her commitment to education. Growing up, she was the only child from the village who left the island to complete her studies.

Her SOS mother, Anselina Wela, is very proud of what Angge went on to achieve.  “I’m so happy, because she came from a poor family, and she has reached this point of success.”

In the future, Angge wants to build a school for young children from low-income families. She also wants to build a shelter for the survivors of human trafficking as well as a place to train them so they gain useful skills.

“My message to all SOS children around the world is: Let us take any opportunities that have been given by SOS to us in order to achieve a successful future. Don’t let the past hold you back from achieving a brighter future. SOS Children’s Villages never asked anything in return, but to see your success and happiness. Let’s spread love around us.”