The idea of SOS Children’s Villages originates from post World War II years, 1949, when an Austrian doctor, Hermann Gmeiner, started to look for a solution for helping war orphans and homeless kids and giving them a possibility to grow up in an environment which would resemble a regular home as closely as possible. The idea became a reality when the first Children’s Village was opened in Imst, Austria.
Today, more than 80,00o children have found a new home in more than 133 SOS Children’s Villages all around the world. The main purpose of Children’s Villages is to offer the children the best environment for their development, considering the resources available, helping them to grow up into full members of society, capable of coping with their independent lives.
The work of the organisation in the world is led and co-ordinated by SOS Kinderdorf International in Austria, which joins more than 133 national SOS Children’s Village’s associations; Estonian SOS Children’s Villages Association is also a member of this organization.
History of Estonian SOS Children´s Villages:
1994 – the first family moves to a new home in Keila SOS Children’s Village.
1995 – In April 37 children are already living in the village. On the 1st of September a small and child-friendly Keila SOS H. Gmeiner kindergarten-elementary school is opened at Keila SOS Children’s Village.
1999 – Keila SOS Youth Home is opened in the autumn; first five young people start living there.
2002 – the second SOS Youth Home in Tallinn is opened at the end of the year.
2002 – in total, 69 children live in Keila SOS Children’s Village.
2004 – 76 children live in children’s village and 14 young people in youth homes. 6 young people have started their own independent lives.
2004 – Keila SOS Youth Home moves into a new and more spacious house and will be housing 16 young people.
2006 – 67 children live in Children’s Village and 22 young people in two youth homes.
2010 – SOS Children’s Village family houses are opened in Põltsamaa; married couples starts working there as caring parents.
2012 – In May SOS Children’s Village family houses are opened in Narva-Jõesuu. One of the houses is for solely for children with physical and mental disabilities.
2015 – On January Juuru Children`s Village joined SOS family. 19 children are living in Juuru SOS Children`s Village.
These are the four SOS principles, observed by SOS Children’s Villages all around the world:
MOTHERS (PARENTS OF THE FAMILY) SOS Children’s Village mother represents a secure adult for the children; she lives with the children in Children’s Village family like any mother in a regular family. Mother’s responsibilities include creating a safe and loving environment, required by children for normal development. Suitable candidates are thoroughly tested to find out whether their wish to become a Children’s Village mother is consistent and they are suitable to take up the position. Comprehensive training will be provided to mothers and the rest of Children’s Village personnel during work.
SIBLINGS Mother and up to 6 children form a Children’s Village family. Biological siblings will not be separated. SOS Children’s Village will do everything possible to allow children coming from the same family – no matter how big – to be brought up together.
HOME Every child has a home, where s/he lives with a mother and siblings. This is a place where a child can feel safe and can always visit, even when being an adult.
VILLAGE SOS Children’s Village usually consists of up to 12 family houses in the vicinity of a large city. The work at the village is lead by a village elder who supports the families with some input from psychologists and mentors. Families communicate actively with each other, help each other and also have contacts with i.e. regular families, living outside the village. SOS children learn in local schools, take part in sports trainings, take part in different extra curricular activies and spend their summer holidays in children’s camps.
Over the months even small donations come to a big number. For example by donating 33 cents a day comes to 10 euros a month for the child. Do a little good already today.