‘SOS’ stands for Societas Socialis. In 1949, Hermann Gmeiner and his supporters founded the Societas Socialis, a social club with the goal of raising funds for the care of orphaned children in Austria. A year later, the name was changed to SOS Children’s Villages. To Hermann Gmeiner and his supporters, ‘SOS’ meant a socially responsible society. They believed that every child deserves a mother, as well as brothers and sisters, a home and a supportive community environment.

An Austrian Philanthropist named Herman Gmeiner founded SOS Children’s Villages in 1949 to reiterate the call for attention to children in need worldwide. From the first children’s village in Imst-Austria, SOS Children ‘s Villages has since grown into more than 135 countries and territories worldwide

SOS Children’s Village is a leading childcare organization that has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949.

The focus of our work is the care for children without parental care and those at risk of losing parental care.

SOS Children’s Village Rwanda is a locally registered as childcare organization that oversees the different facilities, ensuring that each child receives proper care and education.

‘SOS Children’s Villages’ is the English name of the entire organisation, which is active in 135 countries and territories through national associations.

SOS Children’s Villages International is the name of the umbrella organisation of all SOS Children’s Villages associations. It was founded in 1960. As the umbrella organisation has been registered as an association with the Austrian authorities, the legal name used is ‘SOS-Kinderdorf International’ – German for ‘SOS Children’s Village International’.

A short version of the audit report of the legal entity registered with the Austrian authorities is available here.

Financial information on the whole federation can be found in our Annual Report.

SOS Children’s Villages International supports the national associations in their activities and tracks the overall impact of the organisation. The headquarters are in Innsbruck and Vienna, Austria. It is supported by six regional offices as well as representatives in Brussels, Geneva, and New York.

All SOS Children’s Villages associations are registered in their individual countries and are bound by national laws. They have their own local boards and are responsible for the organisation’s activities in each respective country.

Being the largest childcare organization in Rwanda, we take action for children who have lost their parental care and those at risk of losing parental care. This also includes working with young people who grow up through different programmes.

There are four Children’s Villages in Rwanda. These are located in Kigali, Gicumbi, Nyamagabe and Kayonza.

Every effort is made to ensure that the children placed in an SOS family are those who are going to benefit most from its care. Only children who need a new, permanent home in a family environment and for whom a more suitable care placement cannot be found are considered for admission into an SOS family. Generally speaking, children up to the age of ten can be admitted. However, when a group of siblings is admitted, group members’ ages may vary

There is no specific age at which children have to leave the SOS Children’s Village. Usually, they stay in the care of SOS Children’s Villages until they are capable of looking after themselves, or until they can be reintegrated with their biological families

SOS Children’s Villages works with at-risk families and communities to empower parents through a range of activities so they can adequately care for their own children, and to help prevent family breakdown. Find out more about SOS family strengthening.

Generally, it is possible to pay a short visit to an SOS Children’s Village. As the well-being of children is of paramount importance for us, we ask potential visitors to read and follow our basic guidelines.

SOS Children’s Villages works with families in situations of hardship who are at risk of family breakdown and separation. The reasons why families are enrolled in SOS family strengthening include lack of resources, the death of a parent, unstable relationships of the parents or poor health.

Depending on the country and the context, families are referred to SOS family strengthening by partners, the community where they live, or individuals concerned about the family’s well-being.

Child or village sponsorships are regular financial donations specifically earmarked for the support of a child or an SOS Children’s Village. Read more in our Sponsorship FAQ.


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