“Children worldwide are living in extreme poverty, witnessing horrific violence and suffering the long-term impact of deprivations. Without our support, these children are at heightened risk of exposure to trauma and exploitation. Relay for Kids gives us the chance to make a difference in the lives of these children. Together we can raise awareness about children in crisis and give them the chance to enjoy the safe and healthy childhood they deserve.” -Lynn Croneberger, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages – USA.

One of the most heartwarming afternoons during my two-week trip to Ethiopia as a fellow for the International Reporting Project (IRP) last June was spent visiting a SOS Children’s Village. SOS Children is an independent, non-governmental international development organization that provides loving homes for abandoned and orphaned children in 133 countries for almost 82,100 children. It was founded in 1949 by Austrian Hermann Gmeiner with the first SOS Children’s Village built in Imst, Austria as a home for children orphaned by World War II.

Today, SOS Children works to provide abandoned, destitute and orphaned children with a  loving, family based home. Every child in a SOS Village belongs to a family and is provided with a SOS Mother and “siblings” who are the other SOS Children living under the same roof. This allows the children to grow up in a family being loved and feeling secure. Within each village, there are up to fifteen families living together in a community and each family has up to ten children per house. It is a wonderful model and has had a huge impact on the children’s lives and futures.

SOS Children Ethiopia

A SOS Mother with one of her daughters.

Our group of ten fellows spent the entire afternoon at SOS Children in Ethiopia and it was one of the best memories of my trip. What I liked the best about their program is their model of providing each child with a loving, caring family that will raise them and help them succeed. I wrote extensively about my visit in my post “SOS Children: Providing Ethiopia’s orphans the home they need”. (To read post, click here). 

From March 23 through April 24th, SOS Children’s Villages has partnered with Johnson & Johnson, and the Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood on a campaign called #Relay4Kids that will help provide shelter, food and medical care to children in crisis. During the campaign, child advocates from around the world will work together to raise awareness and funds by posting and sharing stories on the Huffington Post as part of Relay For Kids, a month-long virtual relay with a potential to raise up to $30,000 to help improve the lives of children living in crises.

SOS Children Ethiopia

Mihirat with her twins. She has extra help during the night to help care for the twins and her 8 children.

“Johnson & Johnson has a long standing commitment to helping children around the world. Our partnership with SOS Children’s Villages is an extension of that commitment and has grown to include orphaned children, families in need, and youth striving for a productive adult life”, said Conrad Person, Director, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions. “Now, through the Relay for Kids, we can work together to create a community of support for the greatest of causes, our children.”

 #Relay4Kids will take place from March 23 to April 24, 2015. Here’s how it works:  

  • Every week, the Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood will feature three blogs that will focus on helping children in crisis. Relay for Kids blog participants include: Anne Geddes, world-renowned photographer; Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation; Anne Goddard, President and CEO of ChildFund International; and caregivers from SOS Children’s Villages who have worked with children affected by crisis in places like Syria and West Africa.
  • To read these blog posts click here. (It will bring you to SOS Children’s Relay4Kids site where you can click on posts throughout the month that will lead you over to Huffington Post where they are posted).
  • Blog posts shared via social media on the Huffington Post will trigger a $1 donation from Johnson & Johnson—up to $30,000*— to SOS Children’s Villages.
  • The virtual relay will conclude on April 24 with funds going to SOS Children’s Villages to help provide shelter, food and medical care to children living in crisis zones, such as Syria, Ukraine and West Africa.
  • In addition, people can upload a photo to Donate a Photo* and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 — up to $20,000** — for children in crisis.
Important information on the campaign:

Blogs must be shared between March 23 and April 24, on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr and Google+ via the Huffington Post’s social media icons. Each share will trigger a $1 donation up to $30,000. There are no limits on how many times you can share a post. You can also go back to the first post on March 23rd, and began sharing from the beginning. 

** via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and users can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still receive a minimum donation.

For more information about Relay for Kids, visit www.sos-usa.org/relayforkids. Follow the conversation live at #Relay4Kids.

About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages is the largest organization devoted to the care of orphaned and abandoned children.  SOS Children’s Villages builds families for children in need, helps them shape their own futures and share in the development of their communities. We believe that every child deserves a loving home and family, and with that – an education and quality health care.

With 545 villages in more than 130 countries and territories, SOS Children’s Villages is raising more than 82,000 children. In places such as West Africa, Syria and Ukraine, we currently operate 24/7 emergency relief services for affected children and their families. To learn more about SOS Children’s Villages, visit www.sos-usa.org.


  1. Ah! I tried to share it through almost all of the options but it didn’t work. :-/ Maybe because I’m trying to do it via my phone…

      1. Oh great, thank you. 🙂 I shared it manually with a few people but I don’t know if the donation will be tracked that way.

      2. Hi! I finally got to the bottom of this! We figured out that I had my pop-ups blocked on Safari meaning that I was not able to share the posts. I went into Safari, hit “preferences” and unchecked the box that said disable popups. Now I am going back and retweeting all the last posts to get the credit. The donations only count if you share through Huff Post so I bet if you fix your pop ups it will work. Thanks for letting me know it wasn’t just me!

      3. Ok! Boy that’s a tough one to figure out…it is always the littlest things! I’ll go back to and re-share after I fix my pop-up settings. Thanks for investigating.

      4. I went back and retweeted them all. The stories really are beautiful, aren’t they. I especially liked Anne Geddes photos. So heartwarming.

      5. I didn’t see Anne Geddes photos! I will go back and check. It has been such a busy two weeks at work, and I’m leaving the country for three months as of Tuesday, so I’ve gotten behind with the blogging due to all the busyness! :-/

      6. Oh the photos were hauntingly beautiful. They are off children who had their limbs removed due to infections but she captured them in such beautiful ways that it truly brings tears to your eyes. She is an amazing photographer.
        What do you do for work and where are you going for three months?!!! Wow! Hope it is somewhere fun! 🙂

      7. What a great choice to have Anne Geddes do a project like that. I will go back and find the article, sounds wonderful.

        I work at a university! 🙂 My life is still pretty flexible because I’ve been traveling so much over the last five years, so I take advantage of every opportunity to get back to Europe. 🙂 I know this flexibility is a gift, so I try to take full advantage. Although there are still a lot of trade-offs that go with it.

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