July 26 2002
SOS Children's Villages awarded for outstanding achievements in Bolivia
25/07/2002 - Heinrich Mueller, SOS-Kinderdorf International Deputy Secretary-General for Latin America and the Caribbean, was honoured by the Bolivian government for his dedicated work on behalf of children in need.
Heinrich Mueller was awarded the "Order of Civil Merits Libertador Simón Bolivar, rank of Knight Commander" by the Bolivian Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 23 July. Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga, Prefect of La Paz Ana Elizabeth Violand, Managing Director of Services of State Javier Loayza, children and mothers from the SOS Children's Villages were among the many guests to attend the ceremony held at the Radisson Hotel in La Paz.
The award recognizes Mr Mueller's 18 years of dedicated service on behalf of children and communities in need in Bolivia. The award also acknowledges the activities of SOS Children's Villages Bolivia, which started as early as 1968. Today, the organisation runs more than 30 facilities throughout the country, including SOS Children's Villages, kindergartens, youth facilities, schools, vocational training centres and social centres.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Javier Loayza highlighted that "SOS Children's Village facilities do not only benefit children but also local communities; SOS Children's Villages creates employment for over 500 people in this country; It is simply a chain of solidarity that deserves our full recognition. [... Heinrich Mueller's] professionalism was instrumental in leading this organisation down the pathway of commitment and unbiased work, based on the conviction that efforts would reach the majority of regions."
Heinrich Mueller thanked the Bolivian government for this recognition, highlighting the committed uphold of all 530 co-workers of SOS Children's Villages Bolivia and the support received from 6,500 Bolivians by their monthly contributions. "We work towards protecting children who need permanent care; we work towards alleviating suburban poverty; we work towards strengthening families running the risk of disintegration and having to abandon their children [...].There is a way out the vicious circle of poverty; a way towards a better future; and there are thousands of people willing to change their future for the better. This strong desire is enshrined in our vision: We want every child in the world to belong to a family and grow with love, respect and security", Mr Mueller continued.
The award ceremony coincided with the launch of the campaign "Contigo llegaremos Alto, siembra amor para El Alto" for Bolivia's ninth SOS Children's Village currently under construction north of the capital La Paz.
Austrian-born Heinrich Mueller started to work in Bolivia in 1983 as director of SOS Children's Village Mallasa/La Paz. In close co-operation with the directors of already existing facilities, he set up the national association of SOS Children's Villages Bolivia. After several years of co-ordinating the organisation's activities in Western Latin America, he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the umbrella organisation SOS-Kinderdorf International in 2001.