11/09/2007 - The children, mothers and staff at SOS Children's Village Hinterbrühl, near Vienna, are waiting in suspense and delight, since the Dalai Lama is to visit their village on 17 September, just two days after the 50th anniversary of the opening of their village - the largest SOS Children's Village in Europe.
The Dalai Lama will visit SOS Children's Village Hinterbrühl prior to participating in the Waldzell Meeting at Melk Abbey. It will also be a celebration to welcome the Dalai Lama's return, since the religious and temporal leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Peace Prize winner visited Hinterbrühl back in 1973. Erwin Pröll, the Governor of Lower Austria has also announced his visit.
The chair of SOS Children's Villages in Lower Austria Prof. Heinz Nußbaumer is to be thanked for the fact that the Dalai Lama is returning to the village, since he was the one who got to know the Dalai Lama in 1979.
The friendship that has existed between his holiness the Dalai Lama and SOS Children's Villages way beyond the borders of Austria for decades, dates back to the 1960s. The friendship formed between the Dalai Lama and Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS Children's Villages.
In May 1960, soon after the Tibetans fled from their homeland, the Dalai Lama founded "Tibetan Children's Villages". The "Tibetan Homes Foundation" was established in 1962, which meant that two care organisations were already in place to put SOS Children's Villages' idea for Tibetan children into practice. The first Tibetan SOS Children's Village was formed from a temporary children's home in Dharamsala in northern India in 1971, where a large number of refugees had settled.
With time, more SOS Children's Villages were built for Tibetans in various locations in India. They offer a permanent home for more than 7,000 children who have been separated from or who have lost their parents. More than 6,000 other children and young people receive support at social facilities such as schools, nurseries, education centres, etc. SOS Children's Villages for Tibetans tend to be much larger than standard SOS Children's Villages. This is due to the large number of Tibetan refugees. In these villages, the families can have up to 30 members, sometimes even more. There are also a number of projects for Tibetan children and young people in Nepal as well.
50 years of SOS Children's Village Hinterbrühl
Two days before the Dalai Lama's visit, SOS Children's Village Hinterbrühl is to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a large children's party with concerts, cabaret, etc. Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer will be the guest of honour.
Amazing parallels can also be drawn between Hinterbrühl and SOS Children's Village Dharamsala. The village in Hinterbrühl is, with its 25 family houses and numerous other social facilities (youth house, social and child therapy centres, youth welfare centre, work project, therapy centre, etc.), the largest in Europe and SOS Children's Village Dharamsala is the largest in the world by far.