Hermann Gmeiner

"... and nothing in the world seems more important to me than to focus on children." Hermann Gmeiner

Hermann Gmeiner - Father of the SOS Children's Villages idea


Faced with the misery of countless war orphans and homeless children after World War II, Austrian Hermann Gmeiner launched the idea of caring for children in need in a family environment.

"Millions of friends around the world helped me found SOS Children's Villages. It's a feeling of goodness! We understood that it is up to us to give a happy gift to our children today, so that they can ensure a good and beautiful future for us all. The laughter of the children of SOS Children's Villages around the world is the thanks we receive for our work, efforts and sacrifices to provide them with a family and permanent home." Hermann Gmeiner

Helping children

Hermann GMEINER was born in Alberschwende, Austria, in 1919. He came from a farming family in Vorarlberg and lost his mother at an early age. After the Second World War, he understood the great needs of orphaned children. He put aside his professional goal of becoming a pediatrician, and devoted all his energy to helping children in need. In 1949, Hermann Gmeiner founded the first SOS Children's Village in Imst, Tyrol. His idea of an SOS Children's Village has been recognized worldwide, and Hermann Gmeiner is recognized as one of the most important and successful pioneers in family care for children in need.

Hermann Gmeiner's legacy

Hermann Gmeiner died on 26 April 1986 in Innsbruck and was buried in the first SOS Children's Village in Imst, in accordance with his wishes. Hermann Gmeiner had already chosen his successor during his lifetime: Helmut Kutin, who grew up in the ImstSOS Children's Village, and was President of SOS Children's Villages International until June 2012.

At the age of 70, H. Kutin resigned from the presidency. The mandate wass taken over by Siddhartha Kaul, who held this position until June 2021.

In June 2021, the General Assembly of SOS Children's Village International (consisting of representatives from 136 countries) elected Dr. Dereje Wordofa as the new President. He joined SOS Children's Villages, in 2014, as International Director for the Eastern and Southern Africa region, before becoming Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Africa and the Middle East. During his three and a half year tenure, he has worked to improve the quality of programs and safeguarding of children in his region.