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Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2016
SOS Children’s Villages is a non-profit, private international child support organization that aims to provide children with a family, a stable home and a solid education, adopting a universal family-based model which depends on the social and cultural characteristics of each country. It was founded in 1949, after World War II, by Hermann Gmeiner, who created the first Village in Imst, Austria. It acts as a federation of national associations of SOS Children’s Villages and is present in 134 countries and territories. Its current president is Siddhartha Kaul, from India. The organization has existed in Spain since 1967, although it was officially established in 1981.
With the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a guide, SOS Children’s Villages pioneered a long-term system of working with orphans or abandoned children, building a family environment for them within which they have the opportunity to create emotional bonds and develop fully as a person into adulthood. The four principles with which the organization works are: a protecting family environment, support from family and social networks, decision making and actions always based on the best interests of the child, and participation of children in the taking of decisions affecting their lives.
Each SOS Children’s Village consists of several homes where the so-called “SOS Families” live. These are formed by a mother or father or both, who constitute an environment that seeks to make children feel respected, loved and protected, as if they were in their own home. In the SOS Children’s Villages fostering process, groups of biological siblings always remain together. Each village has a team of educators, psychologists and other professionals who provide the necessary help to achieve the optimum development of each foster child via personalized attention. SOS Children’s Villages also works to support and strengthen vulnerable families, so that they can adequately care for their children.
There are more than 570 Children’s Villages worldwide, assisting more than 58,880 children, and more than 1,880 centres (residences for young people, schools, hospitals, etc.) and programmes developed by the organization, providing assistance to more than 490,000 children, young people and adults. It has provided more than 943,000 medical treatments at its 76 hospitals and its emergency care programme has assisted more than 725,000 beneficiaries worldwide. SOS Children’s Villages Spain has eight villages in Barcelona, Pontevedra, Madrid, Granada, Cuenca, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Zaragoza and Las Palmas, where it provided assistance to 6,275 children and young people in 2014. It also funds another fifteen villages in Latin America and three in Africa, providing assistance to 17,228 children and young people.
SOS Children’s Villages also mobilizes when crises or disasters occur anywhere in the world to provide shelter to the affected children. In 2013, for instance, the organization mobilized in the Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan, in Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali. Its funding comes mainly from contributions from members and sponsors, plus donations from individuals and public and private institutions.
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