“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.
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.
“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.”