Hermann Gmeiner Award 2020 – July 31 2020

Alumni from Croatia, Romania and Ethiopia win Hermann Gmeiner Award 2020

Announcement from Siddhartha Kaul and Kay Vorwerk

We all need heroes to look up to, especially now in these troubling times. For more than 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages has been honouring heroes through our Hermann Gmeiner Award. The award goes to outstanding individuals who were cared for in an SOS Children’s Villages programme and who today contribute to the well-being of others and the greater good of society. They are heroes in the eyes of their peers and communities.

This year, some 60 people were nominated, eight of whom - four women and four men - were selected as finalists. A public online vote is meant to typically yield two winners, but this year the Board of the Hermann Gmeiner Academy has decided to make an exception. For more than 20 days, during the voting phase, an internet blackout in Ethiopia meant people from that country were not able vote, putting one of the men’s finalists at a disadvantage. Therefore, the Board has decided to name three winners this year, honouring the two top vote getters in the men’s category.     

We congratulate Kristina Ivanuš of Croatia, Lucian Mustata of Romania, and Gebre-egziabher Gebre of Ethiopia as the winners of the Hermann Gmeiner Award 2020.

Kristina is a competitive diver and underwater photographer. She is an environmental activist working to rid our seas and oceans of plastic and pollution. Lucian, who runs an IT company, set up a project in Romania called "School for Parents,” which has supported more than 100 families in need. Gebre-egziabher, an energy trader by profession, heads a foundation that raises funds for academic equipment, computer facilities and libraries across Africa.

Kristina, Lucian and Gebre-egziabher are living proof that care and support has the power to not only change the lives of individuals, but of communities as a whole.

We also extend our warm congratulations to the women’s finalists - Aliya Rayeva of Kazakhstan, Rhoda Namtende of Kenya, and Shteriyana Danova of Bulgaria – and the men’s finalists - Alfred Muharremi of Albania and Saye-Maye Cole of Liberia. You have inspired so many people with your achievements and personal stories. For us, you are all winners.

Kristina, Lucian and Gebre-egziabher will be honoured during the General Assembly of SOS Children’s Villages in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2021. Until then, join us in congratulating Kristina, Lucian and Gebre-egziabher. We know they will serve as an inspiration to the many talented, hopeful young people who are growing up in SOS Children’s Villages and other alternative care settings around the globe.

With best regards,

Mr Siddhartha Kaul, President of SOS Children’s Villages International

Mr Kay Vorwerk, President of the SOS Children’s Villages Hermann Gmeiner Academy