Hermann Gmeiner, born in Austria, was the only person who cared about these children and women as he was familiarized with the feeling of losing a mother and how the world could turn upside down without this figure. Believing that help is never enough when it comes to children growing up without a family, Gmeiner founded what nowadays is one of the most important NGOs of the globe.
With only six hundred Austrian schillings, Gmeiner founded SOS Children’s Villages, an area where children who had lost their family’s care could live under the guidance of an adult and without the precariousness of institutions such as orphanages. That is how in 1949, the first SOS Children’s Village welcomed children who have lost their parents due to World War II. “House of Peace” was the name of the first house that took the first SOS family in. This house represented a contribution to the peace in the world after the great tragedy that millions of people had suffered.
SOS Children’s Villages’ story began 70 years ago. Since then, this NGO has provided a safe and familiar environment to more than one million children in 136 countries including Mexico. In fact, there is a special SOS Children’s Village that cares for children with motor, psychosocial, intellectual and sensory additional needs.
SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, has been working since 2003. Originally, this village was thought to be for children with special or additional needs who lost their parents’ care. Currently, it is estimated that 126,000 people with special or additional needs live in Chiapas. Nonetheless, no figure is currently available regarding the number of children with one (or more) special or additional needs and without the care of a family.
For 17 years, SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez has been the best option for children and adolescents with special or additional needs because they receive specialized medical care, a home and people who look after them and give them love and security.
Unfortunately, family’s fears and doubts regarding the protection and care of children with special or additional needs is one of the main reasons why children or adolescents arrive at SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez. However, these stories that might be heart breaking are full of hope because the love of a family can change everything. Jaqueline’s story is such a good example of this.
Every day, Jaqueline sees from the door of her house how life goes by in SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez. She sees adolescents coming back from school, going out to play, or taking a stroll. She gets truly happy when somebody she knows passes near her house; she always grins from ear to ear. Occasionally, the calm that brings a rainy day is what she enjoys to contemplate.
She is 15 years old and as any adolescent of her age, she loves wearing dresses and listening to music because it gets her in a good mood. She smiles when she listens to her favorite song; however, sad music brings nostalgia to her heart and sometimes it makes her cry.
Jacky (as her social family calls her) was born without any special or additional needs, but due to a head trauma that she suffered during her early months of life. She has cerebral palsy, which does not let her having control of her body neither to speak, run, play, and eat as any other adolescent.
Before she was one year old, due to the trauma that she suffered, she had surgery because she had hydrocephalus. Surgery was vital as her cranial volume was increasing as was the spinal fluid.
She arrived at SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez 14 years ago. She was a little baby and since then she has received medical care, protection, and love. Little is known about her biological family. Her biological paternal grandparents were once at the village looking for her. They spent a few days with Jacky, but then they never came back.
Jacky has lived all her childhood in her wheelchair or lying on her bed. However, this hasn’t been an obstacle for Jacky to enjoy life and her smile reflects happiness. Her second surgery was a success because now she can develop skills that allow her to communicate with people around her.
Jacky lives with her three social sisters who have a severe disability like her: Aranza, 17, Yolanda, 20, and Martina, 21. All of them are fed through a tube and they communicate through guttural sounds that the people around them identify perfectly.
SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez has become the home for Jacky and other 30 adolescents and young people with special or additional needs. Some of them are now adults, but due to their physical condition, they will never become independent. Unfortunately, the government of Chiapas doesn’t have alternative care programs for adults with special or additional needs.
So far, SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutierrez is the best care option for these people. This village is one of three villages specializing in the care of children with special or additional needs, worldwide.
Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children’s Villages, believed this organization brought goodness based on facts and is an effective contribution to life. Goodness and love that could be sown and harvested as a crop for mankind. He began his legacy by changing the life of many children who lost everything due to a great catastrophe. Nowadays, he has changed the future of thousands of children thanks to his vision of goodness. Today, many children can know the meaning of growing up with the love of a family.
Coordinadora de Alianzas Corporativas en Aldeas Infantiles SOS México