At a ceremony in Oviedo, Spain, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia tonight presented the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord to SOS Children’s Villages.
In his speech, King Felipe VI commended SOS Children’s Villages for its work in favour of vulnerable children. “Humanity will not be completely safe as long as we do not understand that it is an absolute priority to protect, care for, and educate children,” he stated. “SOS Children’s Villages reminds us of this every day through their selfless, tireless and dedicated work.”
On behalf of SOS Children’s Villages, Siddartha Kaul, President of SOS Children’s Villages International, and Pedro Puig, President of SOS Children’s Villages Spain, accepted the award together with María José González Fernández, an SOS mother who has been working with the organisation for more than 17 years, and Raquel López Álvarez, a 26-year-old woman who grew up in an SOS Children’s Village in Spain.
In a press conference prior to the ceremony, President Kaul thanked the Royal Family for the recognition. “We should not forget children, especially those who have no one to protect them,” he continued. “They are the most vulnerable ones. Someone has to stand up for them, defend them, fight for them. And that is what we do.”
Mr Puig added that “this prize places children at a prominent place and gives us the opportunity to raise awareness in our society about the situation of social vulnerability many children in Spain and the world are in.”
“Let’s take the opportunity to raise our voice and call for the well-being that children deserve, to demand a society where every child can live with dignity. Let’s commit to children and demonstrate that we will keep our promise to leave them a better world. They deserve it,” he emphasized.
The Princess of Asturias Foundation announced the decision to bestow the award on SOS Children’s Villages on 6 September. The award aims to recognise those “whose work contributes in a relevant way to the defence of human rights, the promotion of peace, freedom, solidarity, protection of heritage and, in general, progress and understanding of humanity.”
Each Princess of Asturias Award comprises a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the Award, a cash prize of €50,000, a diploma and an insignia. SOS Children’s Villages plans to use the prize money for its first day care centre in Oviedo, which will open its doors to families in need next year.