21 October 2008

SOS Children's Villages Raises Awareness of 133 Million Orphans

Physician and Parent Ernest Brown Named Winner of 2008 World Orphan Week Video Contest

WOW Us Video Contest Winner
Screenshot from the winning video by Dr. Ernest Brown and his son!

October 21, 2008: Every 2.2 seconds, a child somewhere in the world loses a parent due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease or other causes. To provide a voice for these orphaned children, SOS Children's Villages launched WOW Us!, a video contest challenging individuals to apply their artistic talents to raising awareness of orphaned children around the world.  SOS Children's Villages is the world's largest non-governmental organization dedicated to raising orphaned and abandoned children. The video contest coincided with World Orphan Week, a week-long observance to raise awareness and support for the 133 million orphaned and abandoned children throughout the world.

Today, SOS is proud to name Ernest Brown, M.D., the winner of the WOW Us! Video competition. Dr. Brown is a rare find in the medical community. He is a D.C.-based family physician working for Unity Health Care who makes house calls for under-served patients in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C.  Further, Dr. Brown feels privileged to be a part of medical missions to other countries.  He recently participated in medical missions in Belize and Cuba and has upcoming missions scheduled for Tanzania and Senegal where he hopes to provide medical services to children at nearby SOS Villages. The medical mission is supported by Action Teranga. Dr. Brown said "when I learned about the presence of SOS Children's Villages in Tanzania and Senegal, I began researching the possibility of assisting them medically in any way that I could."

"Providing loving and stable homes requires committed individuals from all walks of life. For more than 60 years, SOS Children's Villages has been committed to providing the ongoing support and security needed to embrace a child for a lifetime,” said Heather Paul, Ph.D., president and CEO, SOS Children’s Villages-USA."We are proud that Dr. Brown and his six-year-old son are lending their voices to the needs of orphaned children around the world. Through his engagement with SOS, Dr. Brown is furthering his impact on under-served communities across the globe.  He has gone beyond his daily medical routine to serve those in need through medical missions, and now he plans to extend his reach to SOS families. He is clearly making a difference to those in need throughout the world." 

WOW Us! contestants were asked to create a short video addressing the issue of orphaned and abandoned children. A panel of judges, including Emmy award winners, reviewed the entries for creativity, originality, thematic appropriateness and effectiveness. The public made the final decision by casting votes online. To date, the World Orphan Week videos have been viewed over 11,000 times. SOS is optimistic that thousands more will be exposed to the message of orphaned and abandoned children by watching these videos. 

The contest yielded a competitive field with numerous compelling entries. In the end, Brown's powerful video came out on top. His entry, which features his six-year old son, highlights the chasm between the innocence of children from loving families, and the daunting reality of those without parental care. Brown's entry concluded with a call-to-action to help children in need.

"As adults, surviving life can be an overwhelming experience. For a child without parents, it can be even more daunting," said Brown. "Fortunately, organizations like SOS Children's Villages exist to provide homes for these children and help them overcome what sometimes seem to be insurmountable odds."

SOS partnered with mediabistro.com and Gate Gourmet to produce and promote the video contest. Mediabistro.com is the premier career, community and content resource for media professionals. Gate Gourmet is the world's largest independent airline catering and logistics provider.

Brown's winning entry will be featured in SOS educational campaigns during the next year. Additionally, the video will be featured on TVNewser, a mediabistro.com blog, and he will receive a $1,000 prize, sponsored by Gate Gourmet. Other top videos were produced by Nia M. Barge, Jessika Sobanski, Madison Girifalco, Paul Goodman and Caleb Heller.

During World Orphan Week, SOS staff and volunteers engaged in volunteer fund-raisers, interviews with the press, and they promoted a petition urging the next President of the United States to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC protects children from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

For additional information about World Orphan Week and SOS Children's Villages, please reference the multi-media press release: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/soschildrensvillages/35325.

About SOS Children's Villages
In existence since 1949, SOS Children's Villages is dedicated to the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. SOS offers a family-based model of care essential for the successful transition from childhood into adulthood. SOS Children's Villages has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 14 times and has received the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. For more information, visit http://www.sos-usa.org.