SOS Children’s Villages Offer Warmth and Care

Children are our future. Yet so many of them grow up without loving homes and proper education, condemning them to a lifetime of crime and poverty.

“There are more than 100 million kids without parents or families in the world,” said SOS Children’s Villages Indonesia national director Gregor Hadi Nitihardjo. “Four million of them are in Indonesia.”
SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, apolitical, non-denominational international organization founded in Austria in 1949.

The organization uses a family-based care system, in which the children live in a group of houses, called SOS Children’s Villages, as big families. In each house there is a “mother” — a person who takes care of the children.

“The idea came from a young, unmarried man in Austria over 60 years ago,” said Hadi. “Everybody laughed at him at that time. But he was so convinced by this concept.”

With only 600 Austrian schillings and a strong conviction in his heart, Hermann Gmeiner started the first SOS Children’s Village in Imst in his home country. The first village, opened in 1949, took in hundreds of children orphaned by World War II.

Now there are 518 SOS Children’s Villages in 133 countries, taking care of more than 80,000 children.
There are eight SOS Children’s Villages in Indonesia, looking after more than 8,000 children. Each village contains between 10 and 15 homes that each accommodate about 10 children.

The children usually go to schools outside of the villages and mingle with other children in their society. In the evening, they come home to their loving families at SOS Children’s Villages.

“According to the social department, there are around 5,000 to 8,000 child-care institutions in Indonesia,” Hadi said.

“Yet we can say we’re the most successful one. We give the children what’s missing in their lives, which is a family’s loving care.”

General manager of Louis Vuitton Indonesia, Simpirwati Simarno, visited the SOS Children’s Village in Lembang, Bandung, during her vacation in 2009, and was very impressed.

“I was impressed to see that the ‘mothers’ were truly sincere and dedicated to taking care of the children,” Simpirwati said. “There’s a strong sense of attachment in each home, just like in real families.”
Since her first visit, Simpirwati has arranged team visits for Louis Vuitton staff to SOS Children’s Villages in Jakarta and Bandung. During these visits, the Louis Vuitton team conducts fun activities and donates money.

“What’s so amazing was the staff’s response,” Simpirwati said. “Every time we organized activities with SOS kids, everyone looked so happy. They brought along their families and played with the kids.”
Louis Vuitton Indonesia’s interest in SOS Children’s Villages preceded a five-year global commitment by Louis Vuitton International to SOS Children’s Villages around the world.

“The global commitment started in 2010,” said Jean-Christophe Thevenin, general manager of Louis Vuitton in Southeast Asia. “But LV Indonesia started one year before that. So, [in a way], LV Indonesia showed the way [to contribute] to Louis Vuitton around the world.”

The five-year global commitment involves a variety of projects tailored to suit the needs of SOS children in each city.

In Bhubaneswar, India, for example, Louis Vuitton launched a competition among its in-house architects to develop a learning center for SOS children.

The winning project, Roshandan, meaning “where there is light,” incorporates a design that allows the optimal penetration of sunlight while allowing a natural and continuous air circulation within the building.

In Vietnam, Louis Vuitton established a day-boarding facility in the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Nha Trang to allow SOS kids and other students at the school to rest between lessons. Most kids in Nha Trang have to travel long distances to go to school, leaving them very tired during lessons.

In Indonesia, Louis Vuitton donated several pieces of arts and sports equipment and built bale bengong , open-air halls, for children’s activities in the SOS Children’s Village in Cibubur, East Jakarta, in 2010.
“We hope to foster artistic and sports skills in children besides the lessons that they learn at school,” Simpirwati said.

In 2011, Louis Vuitton provided scholarships for 150 SOS children in Cibubur.

Recently, the intellectual property department of Louis Vuitton International donated $110,000 for SOS Children’s Villages in Indonesia.

“We discussed and came to the conclusion that it should be donated to the SOS Children’s Villages in Flores,” Simpirwati said.

Home to pristine natural beauty, Flores, located in East Nusa Tenggara, is one of the least developed areas in Indonesia.

The donation will be used to renovate the kindergarten and build an open-air hall for children’s activities, as well as purchase and operate three mobile libraries.

The mobile libraries will serve more than 200 SOS children and 2,000 other youngsters in the small town.

“For us in Java, it’s very easy to get information and knowledge,” Hadi said. “We can access the Internet and find everything that we need to know, or go to libraries, courses and seminars to get more knowledge. But that’s not the case in Flores.”

Due to its harsh terrain, there is very limited Internet access. There are also very few libraries, courses or seminars in the small town.

Hadi also plans to use the donations to invite tutors from Java to train SOS “mothers” and school teachers.

In addition to the donation, Louis Vuitton has committed to covering the running costs of the SOS kindergarten and mobile libraries in Flores for the next three years.

“So this is not just a one-shot project,” Simpirwati said. “We really want the kids of Flores to enjoy these new facilities.”

Hadi said he appreciated Louis Vuitton’s commitment to the project.

“This is very good,” Hadi said. “Many companies build something and leave. We didn’t know what to do with the buildings and couldn’t afford their maintenance costs. But with LV, we’re sure that the new facilities will indeed be useful for the kids.”

You can contact SOS Children's Village Indonesia:
SOS Children's Villages - FDC Office
Plaza Nariba, Jl. Mampang Prapatan Raya No. 39 Unit B2a, Jakarta Selatan 12790
Phone/Fax: 021 7991529

Donations can be made by Money Order in favour of "Yay SOS Ds Taruna/Kinderdorf"
Bank Central Asia (BCA) Lembang - No. 008-3750445
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