November 25 2005
"Woman of the Year" award goes to SOS Children's Villages
Women worldwide serving as "SOS mothers" to be honoured at the Women's World Awards, 29 November 2005 in Leipzig, Germany
(25 November 2005) - Some 5,000 women who serve as professional caregivers or "SOS mothers" for around 59,000 children in the care of SOS Children's Villages in 132 countries and territories, will be decorated with the Woman of the Year award in the category of "social commitment". Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of the World Awards, Michail Gorbachev, will be handing out the Woman of the Year prizes in ten categories at a 29 November 2005 gala in Leipzig. Margarete Gehring from the children's village in Diessen, Germany, will receive the prize in the name of all "SOS mothers" worldwide.
"They (SOS mothers) give children without families a new home, security and love. Through their work they significantly contribute to making this world a better place and are brilliantly exemplary to us all," said Michail Gorbachev.
Helmut Kutin, President of SOS Children's Villages, said: "Caring for mentally and physically injured children calls for people who have exceptional inner strength - SOS mothers are the healing strength in the children's lives; they give them the ability to trust, to feel safe, they take away their fears of abandonment and are always there for them. With this award, each of these women, who provide countless children with a family base, will be honoured."
The "SOS mother" is a key figure in the family-based out-of-home childcare model of SOS Children's Villages, the largest private and non-governmental organisation for children which was founded in Austria in 1949. This childcare model for orphaned, abandoned and destitute children, which is practiced at the organisation's 438 children's villages worldwide, is based on the following four principles: every child needs the love of a mother or parent, while growing up together with girls and boys of different ages as sisters and brothers, in a family house within a village that forms a supportive community.
An "SOS mother" lives in a family environment with some four to ten children in a house within a children's village. Many "SOS mothers" have brought up several generations, and many serve as the emotional anchor long after the children have left the children's village. They are professionally trained caregivers who recognise and respect each child's background, cultural roots and religion. Today, many couples serve in this position.
The Women's World Awards are part of the global initiative Women's World Forum which was established in 2004, and is dedicated to building a better future for all women. The World Women's Awards is given to women who serve as an example to others due to their remarkable achievements. Other winners in 2005 include Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who will receive the "tolerance" award, and Catherine Deneuve in the category of "lifetime achievement."
SOS Children's Villages is active in 132 countries and territories. 438 SOS Children's Villages and 346 SOS Youth Facilities provide more than 59,000 children and youths in need with a new home. More than 131,000 children/youths attend SOS Kindergartens, SOS Schools and SOS Vocational Training Centres. Around 397,000 people benefit from the services provided by SOS Medical Centres, 115,000 people from services provided by SOS Social Centres. SOS Children's Villages also helps in situations of crisis and disaster through emergency relief programmes.
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