Our people

SOS International

The SOS Children's Village organisation has been operating around the world for 70 years.

Since 1949 more than four million children have been assisted.


Our people

About the SOS International Organisation

The idea of establishing a children's village was thought up by Austrian social worker Hermann Gmeiner after the Second World War, in 1949.

Gmeiner wanted to find a way of helping war orphans and homeless children and creating as home-like an environment for them to grow up in as possible. He was convinced that help was of no use if children had to grow up in an environment that lacked the feeling of home. With just 600 Austrian shillings in his pocket (around 40 euros in today’s money), Gmeiner started turning his idea into reality. In 1949 he created the Austrian non-profit organisation Societas Socialis. This was later abbreviated to SOS, with “Children's Village” eventually being added to it.

SOS Kinderdorf Austria was the first to be registered, and that same year the cornerstone of the first SOS Children's Village was laid in the town of Imst in the Tyrol region, which operates to this day. The need for such care led to the children's village idea spreading to many other European countries. In 1960, SOS Children’s Village International (the international umbrella organisation for SOS Children's Villages) was founded in Strasbourg, France, which began to coordinate the international work of the Children's Villages.

Today it has expanded to more than 130 countries.

The aim of SOS Children's Village is to provide family-based growing conditions for children who have been left without parental care and at the same time to help families stay together by supporting them. Over the past 70 years, this way of thinking has spread around the world more and more.

In 1995 the organisation was granted consultant status on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and in 2002 it was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton humanitarian aid prize for its extraordinary contribution to relieving suffering in the world.

The organization has helped four million children all over the world in the last seven decades.

The Estonian Society of the SOS Children's Village has been a member of the international SOS Children's Village Federation since 1994.

SOS International website