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And the winners are...

Maya and Deepak were presented with the award at the Hermann Gmeiner Academy in Innsbruck, Austria
Maya and Deepak were presented with the award at the Hermann Gmeiner Academy in Innsbruck, Austria

After growing up in an SOS Children's Village, many young people go on to become inspiring role models in their communities. The Hermann Gmeiner Award recognises the incredible achievements of former SOS children, and is presented to one man and one women every two years. Here, meet Maya and Deepak, winners of the Hermann Gmeiner Award 2014.

Maya Dhal, India

After being supported to excel as a child, Maya was determined to give disadvantaged children the same opportunities she had.

Maya Dhal of India, Winner Hermann Gmeiner Award 2014

Both of Maya's parents died when she was still a baby. At just four months old, Maya was welcomed into SOS Children's Village Bhubaneswar to start a new life. There, she flourished in the love of her SOS mother, Susama, and family.

Maya studied hard at school, and was later accepted to university. After graduation Maya began working at the Swosti Institute of Management and Social Studies. Passionate about education, Maya volunteers at a local school where she teaches children who are growing up in slums. She hopes in the future to help more children get to school and succeed. Maya says, 

"Because of SOS Children’s Villages I am here. This motivates me to help poor children in their education so that they can at least be educated, stand independently, help their families and be of support to someone in their society."

Watch Maya's story below in this short video 

Deepak KC, Nepal

Having a disability never held Deepak back when he was growing up in SOS Children's Village Jorpati in Nepal. Today, he integrates his advocacy for disability rights and his work as an architect. 

Deepak KC, Winner of Hermann Gmeiner Award 2014

The SOS Children's Village in Jorpati was the first in Asia to be dedicated to the care of children with disabilities. For wheelchair-bound Deepak, the Village was a chance to have a normal, happy childhood:

“It was beyond my imagination when I saw friends like me were sharing joy and happiness in a wonderful environment. Although all of us had some kind of physical limitation, our activities and memories are no different than those of normal children”.   

Deepak flourished, and went on to obtain a degree in Architecture Engineering - the first wheelchair user in Nepal to do so. Deepak is a campaigner for Universal Design, that is, inclusive architecture for people of diverse needs. His other passion is table tennis, and he founded the National Physical Disabled Table Tennis Association of Nepal.    

"To focus on personal growth and to become a successful person is good, but it’s not enough. As children who grew up in SOS, we all have the responsibility to create a better society,” says Deepak.

Watch Deepak's story below in this short video

Congratulations from SOS

Maya and Deepak were invited to receive their awards in Innsbruck, Austria, where SOS Children's Villages was founded in 1949. Richard Pichler and Siddhartha Kaul, CEO and President of SOS Children's Villages International, say about the winners:

"They have in their own way shared their passion with other children who are less fortunate. In spite of difficulties they persevered and continue to do so. Deepak is passionate for the aid for the disabled and Maya for education. Both share their passion with children who have been denied - a true reflection of SOS family values."

Former SOS children are achieving incredible feats all around the world. They would not be where they are today without the generosity of our supporters.

Learn how you can become a child sponsor and change a life.