Brief history of SOS Children's Villages

1949: SOS Children's Villages founded in Austria by Hermann Gmeiner; first SOS Children's Village built in Imst, Austria.

1955: The first SOS Youth Facility is being established in Innsbruck, Austria. Foundation of SOS Children’s Villages associations in France, Germany and Italy.

1960s: SOS Children's Villages International established as the umbrella organisation for all SOS Children's Villages associations. Start of the work in Latin America (Uruguay).

1963: First SOS Children’s Villages in Asia (South Korea and India).

1970s: First African SOS Children's Village built in Côte d'Ivoire; first programmes started in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

1985: Helmut Kutin succeeded Hermann Gmeiner as President of SOS Children's Villages International.

1986: Hermann Gmeiner dies on 26 April 1986, having established some 230 SOS Children's Villages all over the world. Both, SOS Children's Villages and Hermann Gmeiner himself had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.

1991: SOS Children’s Villages reactivated in Czechoslovakia. First SOS Children’s Villages in Poland and the Soviet Union; new projects in Bulgaria and Romania. Foundation of first SOS Children’s Village in the USA.

1995: UN membership: SOS Children's Villages International becomes "NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations".

2002: SOS Children's Villages International receives the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world-renowned humanitarian award, for extraordinary contributions towards alleviating human suffering.

2005: Following the tsunami disaster in Asia, SOS Children's Villages starts an emergency relief and reconstruction programme - the largest one in the history of SOS Children's Villages - in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

2007: SOS Children's Villages helps victims of natural disasters in Bolivia, Indonesia, Peru and Uruguay, as well as those displaced in the crisis-torn regions of Sudan, Chad and Somalia. Initiated in 2003, the family strengthening programmes support 80,000 children.

2009: The 500th SOS Children's Village is opened in the year of the 60th anniversary of the organisation. More than 73,400 children and young people have a stable home in SOS Children's Villages and youth facilities in 132 countries and territories. More than 1.2 million children and adults are benefiting from various social services (family strengthening programmes, schools, vocational training centres, medical centres, emergency relief etc.). The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, to which SOS Children's Villages has significantly contributed to, are officially welcomed by the UN General Assembly.

2010: After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, over 500 unaccompanied children were given a temporary home in the SOS Children’s Villages in Santo and Cap Haitien. Thousands of children participated in the emergency nutrition programme.

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