SOS Projects

Where we work

We work wherever children need a secure and loving home.

Today, there are an estimated 151 million children worldwide who have lost one or both parents, with at least 13 million of these children having lost both parents. SOS Children’s Villages supports vulnerable children, as well as fragmented families, in 125 countries across five continents.

When a child loses everything, SOS Children’s Villages is there to give them a home, a mother and a family. We provide homes where children grow up from infancy to adulthood. Homes with an SOS mother and siblings. This is what makes SOS Children’s Villages unique.

SOS Projects - SOS Children's Villages United Kingdom

SOS Mothers

What does it mean to be an SOS mum?

SOS mothers are the dedicated women who care day to day for children living in SOS Children’s Villages. They are at the centre of our work and a key part of what makes our charity unique.

An SOS mother is always a member of the local community who received years of educational training and whose education continues as they raise their SOS children.

SOS mothers live with their children in a family home, support their individual needs, and celebrate special occasions with them. Many former SOS children keep in touch with their SOS mother once they grow up, showing that the same strong bond exists as between a natural mother and her child.  Worldwide there are more than 5,250 SOS mothers.

SOS Villages

The best place for a child to grow up is usually with their parents and siblings. Family members often look after children who have lost the care of their parents. But sometimes chronic poverty, war or diseases like HIV/AIDS mean relatives are unable to step in. When children have nobody to care for them, they can live in an SOS Children’s Village.

In these supportive communities, children grow up in families and receive all they need to flourish: care from an SOS mother, and an SOS family with boys and girls of different ages, a family house (in each Village there are about 10-15 houses), a village community, good education at SOS Nurseries and Schools, quality healthcare at SOS Medical Centres and support until they are independent young adults.

There are 563 SOS Children’s Villages around the world, with 37 more under construction. Our SOS Villages are currently home to 6,039 families.

SOS Projects - SOS Children's Villages United Kingdom

SOS Youth Homes

When young people from our SOS Children’s Villages are old enough to leave their SOS families, many of them move to an SOS youth home with others their own age. Youth homes are often located at the SOS Children’s Village, but some are situated beyond the Village to help youngsters adjust to the outside world.

Young people from SOS families are joined by those from the surrounding community. Youngsters often join aged around 15 or 16, when they are in the final stages of secondary education.

Watch Maya’s story

The SOS youth homes provide young people with education and training, teach key life skills, and help them to mature into well-rounded adults. We begin by teaching them the basics they need to live independently, such as preparing and cooking food, managing finances and maintaining a household.

Youth homes generally work in tandem with SOS vocational training centres, so residents almost always have the opportunity to gain skills training under the guidance of specialist teachers. Often, vocational training centres are open to the community too, giving those from the youth home the chance to mix with young  people from the community. The qualifications on offer are tailored to the local job market so that young people are able to find work once they leave the home.

Residents typically leave the youth home aged between 18 and 21, though we support them for longer if they still need our help. Many youngsters go on to achieve incredible success and work to create a better world for others.

"Having driven from Kathmandu to Sano Thimi through the heat and dust, the SOS Children's Village was a positive oasis of peace and calm. I was so impressed by what I saw and how the village benefits the whole community"

SOS Children's Village sponsor
Sano Thimi, Nepal

Community outreach

As well as creating SOS families in our Children’s Villages we help local families to stay together through our “family strengthening programmes”. These aim to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment.

Each family is offered a package of services and a family development plan. Gradually, they build their capacities and are better able to care for and protect their children. Services are tailored to each family’s needs, with our long-term goal to empower families to be financially independent.

We also run other, wider-reaching community projects such as micro finance and food security programmes. The aim of these programmes is to enable families to stand on their own and to foster a safe, nurturing environment in which children can grow up.

Working with the wider community means we can reach beyond SOS Children’s Villages and help thousands of children and their families.

Read more about our Women’s empowerment for change project in the Gambia.


SOS Children’s Villages is committed to all children receiving their right to education. When equipped with knowledge, skills and ambition, children can grow up to live happy, empowered lives, and be valuable members of society.

Our holistic approach to learning and education embraces all dimensions of child wellbeing. It accompanies children individually from birth onwards to develop their own potential and strengths. Each individual’s educational path then contributes to the sustainable development of society as a whole.

At least 68 million primary school-age children around the world are denied their right to education. One of the main obstacles preventing children from going to school is poverty. We believe that the poverty cycle can be broken by all children getting a good education.

Around the world, SOS Children’s Villages works to provide a holistic education to children, that develops cognitive, social, emotional, physical and vocational skills.

Over 123,000 children receive an education in our SOS Nurseries, SOS Primary and Secondary schools.


Providing healthcare is part of the holistic support we give to vulnerable children and families across the world. Our medical centres are usually situated near SOS Children’s Villages, ensuring basic healthcare for all children, SOS mothers and other SOS staff. There are 79 SOS Medical Centres across the world which actively serve communities where there is often no other medical provision, reaching thousands of children and families each year.

We also run health awareness campaigns in schools and social centres. These workshops give children and caregivers tools and knowledge about nutrition, family planning, STD prevention, and general healthcare. Knowing how to keep healthy means parents can provide nurturing care for their children.

SOS mobile clinic
SOS healthcare

Emergency relief

When a natural disaster or conflict threatens children’s safety, we take action to protect them and help families recover. With established networks and local staff in 125 countries, we are well-placed to quickly respond. From delivering essential supplies in the immediate aftermath of disaster, to rebuilding community infrastructure, we strive to achieve permanent change for families affected by disaster .We have a long-term approach, and remain in a community after an emergency has passed to continue to support recovery efforts.

Help us stay prepared for emergencies so we can deliver vital care to children as soon as disaster strikes

Children's Rights

We stand up for children and help to inform communities and decision makers about children’s rights.

As a leading organisation in the development of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, we are global experts when it comes to safeguarding children without, or at risk of losing, parental care. We also partner with other recognised organisations to promote and protect children’s rights.

SOS Children’s Villages has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on 16 occasions. In 2002, we received the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Most recently, SOS Children’s Villages won the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord.

It’s only thanks to our supporters that we are able to provide the world’s most vulnerable children with a brighter future.



SOS Children's Villages SOS project child rights
SOS children's villages SOS projects child rights

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