SOS Children in a nutshell

Do you want to find out more about SOS Children? Here are the latest facts and figures about our work for children at risk (If you are looking for our financial figures, please see our Annual Reports):

Blue planet world map

In a nutshell, we:

  • Run projects in 125 countries around the world

  • Run 545 SOS Children’s Villages (with 42 more currently under construction)

  • Run 383 SOS Youth Homes

  • Care for more than 62,000 children and young people in our SOS Villages and SOS Youth Homes

  • Provide over 100,000 children with an education in our SOS Nurseries, SOS Primary Schools and SOS Secondary Schools

  • Support more than 1 million vulnerable children and their family members through all of our Programmes, from those listed above to our SOS Medical Centres to Family Strengthening Programmes

Children SOS Children's Village Tlokweng, BotswanaOur History: Milestones

1949 - The first SOS Children's Village is built in Imst in Austria. 

1960 - We start our first activities in Latin America (Uruguay).

1963 - We begin our work in Asia (South Korea and India).

1971 - The first African SOS Children's Village is built in Côte d'Ivoire. Further projects begin in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

1991 - The SOS Children's Villages in Czechoslovakia is re-opened. The first SOS Children's Villages are built in Poland and the Soviet Union and new projects are started in Bulgaria and Romania. The first SOS Children's Village is founded in the USA.

1995 - We are classified as an "NGO with consultative status (category II) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations".

2002 - We are awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world renowned humanitarian award, for extraordinary contributions towards alleviating human suffering.

2005 - Following the tsunami disaster in Asia, we provided emergency assistance (food, medicine, start-up grants and temporary shelter) as well as long-term support (reconstruction of family houses, Family Strengthening Programmes, community centres and SOS facilities) in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

2007 - We help victims of natural disasters in Bolivia, Indonesia, Peru and Uruguay, as well as those displaced in the crisis-torn regions of Sudan, Chad and Somalia. SOS Children wins the OPEC Fund Award for Development. In four years, Family Strengthening Programmes have assisted more than 80,000 children and families.

2009 - The 60th anniversary of SOS Children is celebrated in 132 countries. The 500th SOS Children's Village in the world opens in Cali, Colombia. We receive the prestigious Save the World Award 2009.

2010 - We run high profile Emergency Relief Programmes in Haiti and Pakistan.

General Info about SOS Children

  • We have villages and community projects all around the world, helping some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
  • We give children who have no one else to turn to the comfort and security of a new family and home in one of our SOS Children’s Villages. Regardless of race, religion or culture, children are given a new SOS mother, brothers and sisters and a home, where they can stay until they are old enough to lead their own independent lives. To help them achieve this, we provide these children and young people with the education, skills and knowledge they need to become contributing members of society.
  • By working with local communities, offering support to families through child care provision, counselling, medical advice and vocational skills as well as support for families that have been affected by illness or disease, our aim is to prevent the causes of child abandonment.

Orphans - what do we mean?

Sometimes we call ourselves the "world's largest orphan charity", and sometimes "the world's largest orphan and abandoned children's charity". In reality, different people understand different things by the term "orphan", and there is no one clear definition.

For example, the US Immigration Department describes an orphan as being a ‘child under the age of 16, who has lost the care of both parents’, which also includes abandoned children and those separated from their parents by Court Order. UNICEF, on the other hand, defines an orphan as any child up to 18 of whom one parent has died and uses the unusual term "double orphan" to indicate a child, in those cases where both parents have died. This makes the quoted number of orphans high and under this definition, children who are often no more at risk than children in single parent families are included as orphans.

What we mean is that SOS Children looks after children whose parents are not there to care for them and have no one else to care for them: in practice we may not always know if the parents have died or not. We try to reunite children with their families first and we don't keep centralised records on exact statistics by category.

We are, however, quite distinctive amongst charities of our size in having a specific mission to provide loving homes, stable relationships and a future for children with no-one else. No other charity with this primary mission is as big as SOS Children.