April 24 2009

First SOS mother celebrates her 90th birthday

24/04/2009 - Maria Weber, the very first SOS mother celebrates her 90th birthday the same year that SOS Children's Villages celebrates its 60-year anniversary. Coincidentally, the founder of SOS Children's Villages, Hermann Gmeiner (*23 June 1919;† 26 April 1986) would have reached the age of ninety this year, too.

Photo: SOS Archive
Birthday girl Maria Weber with children from Hinterbrühl - Photo: SOS Archive

Maria Weber was born on 3 May 1919 in Deutschkreuz in the Austrian state Burgenland. After finishing school, this farmer's daughter moved to Vienna and became a parish nurse. She first found employment in Pfunds in Tyrol, which is where she first received mailings from Hermann Gmeiner. "So I donated 3.60 shillings for the construction of Haus Weihnachten ("House Christmas"). That means that, in a way, I laid down one of the foundation blocks for the very building I would later, in 1951, become an SOS mother in," she says with a quiet chuckle to herself.

In 1957, Maria Weber moved to the newly founded SOS Children's Village in Hinterbrühl close to Vienna, at that point the fourth children's village in Austria. She lives there to this day, in the so-called "mother's house" for retired SOS mothers.

Maria Weber was an SOS mother for more than 20 years and retired in 1977. She raised 20 children and is still in contact with them regularly, in addition to the frequent visits she receives from her 36 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren she enjoys so much. She will be celebrating her proud age on 2 May, surrounded by the members of her very large family.