Who We Are

SOS Children's Villages is the largest non-governmental, non-political, non-denominational charitable child welfare organisation in the world. Its mission is to build families for children in need, help them shape their own futures and share in the development of their communities. The first SOS Children's Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1949 in Imst, Austria. He was committed to helping children in need,children who had lost their homes, their security and their families as a result of the Second World War. With the support of many donors and co-workers, the organisation has grown to help children all over the world.

Currently, SOS Children's Villages offers an effective child care through its services in the Alternatice Child Care (ACC) and Family and Community Development (FCD) Programme Units in 134 countries and territories around the world. It also supports educational programmes and medical centres and it is active in the field of child protection.

SOS Children's Villages started to work in Ethiopia in 1974 with the opening of the first SOS Children's Village in Mekelle. Six years later, the second SOS Children's Village became operational in Harar. In 1981, SOS Children's Village Addis Ababa was established as the third Village for Ethiopia. Between the years 1985- 2004, additional three SOS Children's Villages were established in Hawassa, Bahir Dar, and Gode, consecutively. The seventh SOS Children's Village Programme was also officially inaugurated in Jimma this year in March 2013.

In almost all programme locations, SOS Children's Villages Ethiopia has Alternative Child Care, Family and Community Development, Education and Training, as well as Health programme units. It has also implements emergency preparedness and response program.

Our roots

  • We take action for children as an independent non- governmental social development organisation
  • We respect various religions and cultures
  • We work in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • With the SOS Children's Village concept, we pioneered a family based approach to the long - term care of children who have lost parental care or are at significant risk of losing parental care.

Our Vision - What we want for children

"Every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security."

Every child belongs to a family

  • Family is the heart of society. Within a family each child is protected and enjoys a sense of belonging. Here, children learn values, share responsibilities and form life-long relationships. A family environment gives them a solid foundation on which to build their lives.

→ Every child grows with love

  • Through love and acceptance, emotional wounds are healed and confidence is built. Children learn to trust and believe in themselves and others. With this self-assurance each child can recognise and fulfil his or her potential.

→ Every child grows with respect

  • Each child’s voice is heard and taken seriously. Children participate in making decisions that affect their lives and are guided to take a leading role in their own development. The child grows with respect and dignity as a cherished member of his or her family and society.

→ Every child grows with security

  • Children are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation and are kept safe during natural disaster and war. Children have shelter, food, health care and education. These are the basic requirements for the sound development of all children.

Our Mission - What we do

"We build families for children in need, we help them shape their own futures and we share in the development of their communities."

→ We build families for children in need

  • We work for children who are orphaned, abandoned or whose families are unable to care for them. We give these children the opportunity to build lasting relationships within a family. Our family approach in the SOS Children’s Village is based on four principles: Each child needs a mother, and grows up most naturally with brothers and sisters, in their own house, within a supportive village environment.

→ We help them shape their own futures

  • We enable children to live according to their own culture and religion, and to be active members of the community.
  • We help children to recognize and express their individual abilities, interests, and talents.
  • We ensure that children receive the education and skills training they need to be successful and contributing members of society.

→ We share in the development of their communities

  • We share in community life and respond to the social development needs of society’s most vulnerable children and young people.
  • We establish facilities and programs that aim to strengthen families and prevent the abandonment of children.
  • We join hands with community members to provide education and health care, and respond to emergencies.

Our Values - What keeps us strong

These are the core beliefs and attitudes on which our organization has been built, and they are the cornerstones of our success. These enduring values guide our actions, decisions, and relationships as we work towards fulfilling our mission.

Ultimately all our work on behalf of the abandoned child must be seen as a contribution to peace.

Hermann Gmeiner


We take action

We have challenged traditional methods of orphan care and continue to pioneer innovative child-care approaches. We help children who have no one else to turn to. With a sensitive yet confident approach we are determined to question, learn and take action for children around the world.


We keep our promises

We are dedicated to helping generations of children have a better life. We do this by nurturing lasting relationships with our donors, our co-workers and the communities in which we are rooted. We believe that by making a long-term commitment we have a meaningful and sustainable impact.


We believe in each other

We believe in each other’s abilities and potential. We support and respect one another, and build an environment where we can approach our responsibilities with confidence. In an atmosphere of trust we are inspired to share our experiences and learn from each other.


We are reliable partners

Since 1949 we have built a foundation of trust with donors, governments, and other partners who support us in our mission. Our greatest responsibility is guaranteeing the well-being of children by ensuring high standards of care. In doing this we are committed to using all funds and resources wisely, with respect and accountability.

The way we do it – What makes us unique

It is in how we put our fundamental belief ("Every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect, and security.") into action that sets us apart.

SOS Children's Villages believes that to provide a loving home, you have to understand that every child is unique. Every child comes from a different background, has different needs and different dreams. We are different because we truly put the child at the centre of everything we do.

Our differentiators then are:

  • Individual child & youth development
  • Family environments
  • Reliable and resilient relationships

1. We know every child by name. 

We get to know every child and young person in our care, and each one has an individual development plan. We talk with the children and involve them, age-appropriately, in any decisions affecting them. The individual child's best interests are at the heart of every decision.

Although each child is different, our experience tells us that ALL children need long-term, resilient relationships, and that these are best developed in family environments.

2. We care within a family.

Everything we do is oriented towards making sure that every child grows up in a caring family environment, where they feel like they belong, where the child can be a child.

This implies not only that their basic needs are met – including health, education, and nutrition – but that each and every child experiences stable and loving relationships.

Building on existing capacities and initiatives within the community, we develop strong social support systems for children and their families.

When this happens, children grow into confident adults and contributing members of society, breaking the cycle of poverty and inequity.

3. We stay with the children as long as they need us.

We provide support over the long term, so that each child or young person can develop resilient relationships and face life's challenges in the future.

We continue our support until young people are ready to become independent.

We focus on enabling the child to really be themselves, and ultimately to be responsible for their own decisions and actions.

REMEMBER that our aim always is to keep families together. And when children are unable to remain with their biological parents, we strive to ensure that brothers and sisters stay together. SOS is one of the only organizations to work with groups of siblings.