Hermann Gmeiner Day 2013

A review

State of the (He)Art in Development Cooperation oder:
Entwicklungszusammenarbeit und welchen Herausforderungen sich SOS-Kinderdorf stellt!

Development cooperation and the role of SOS Children’s Villages in shaping it from the frontlines was the very actual and relevant topic discussed by experts at the Hermann Gmeiner Academy on the 27th commemoration of his death on 26 April.

The heritage of Herman Gmeiner has enabled SOS Children’s Villages to continue to be successful with the support of its donors. The sheer size of the organisation obliges it to become highly effective in shaping modern development cooperation, said David Katzlinger, one of the speakers from SOS Children’s Villages International.

From New York Sofia Garcia-Garcia elaborated on what Mr Katzlinger said by giving an overview of the Post 2015 Agenda currently being developed by the United Nations. She also explained the important difference between development cooperation and development policy.

While development cooperation refers mostly to the transfer of resources from one country to another to bolster the one’s development, development policy is what the country does to develop itself, Ms Garcia-Garcia said. She added that the new development framework after the Millennium Development Goals has changed the general understanding of development. A paradigm shift is needed on what SOS Children’s Villages development cooperation wants to achieve and how to actually achieve it.

“We need to bring the voice of children into high level decision making processes… Children and young people without parental care and families at risk must be a priority for governments and the international community worldwide in their policy making and funding programmes“, said Ms Garcia-Garcia.

Karin Demuth, also from SOS Children’s Villages International, explained what the organisation is already doing to work with local communities in finding sustainable answers to their problems. The SOS Children’s Village Policy Programme recognises the resources of available community initiatives and works together with these initiatives to strengthen social support systems.

“We are a learning organisation and there is certainly room for improvement, but there are already some examples where we do things correctly“,said Ms Demuth. She referred to a family strengthening programme in Kitwe in Zambia where SOS Children’s Villages is supporting 376 households in partnership with community based organisations as well as government departments.


Peter Hesse from the www.solidarity.org (Peter Hesse Foundation) brought an outside perspective in a passionate key note speech on his development work. The foundation, with its guiding principle of solidarity in partnership for one world in diversity, was established in 1983 to sustain small self-help projects for deprived people in Haiti.

36 Montessori preschools were established with the aid of the Peter Hesse Foundation. The political turmoil in the country and the earthquake in 2010 however disrupted a lot of its work. Konsul Dipl-Kfm Hesse described the building of the new, post earthquake Montessori Centre Haiti, where teachers are trained, as an excellent example of development cooperation by local and international partners. .

“There are two basic truths that I have broken everything down to: nothing can’t be developed. Everything develops naturally from the bottom up. But the staircase must be cleaned from the top to the bottom,“ Konsul Dipl-Kfm Hesse told his audience. That means politicians must pave the way from the top for development to take place from the bottom.

Hartwig Fischer, Member of the German Parliament and President of the German Africa Foundation, gave his views in a short telephonic interview. He said it is important for children to have opportunities in a better world where the gap between rich and poor becomes smaller. These goals can however not be achieved by public funds alone. Therefore partners like SOS Children’s Villages are needed.

“I think there is hardly another organisation so efficient and effective. If I think of Somalia you are the only organisation that stayed and continue to help children where all the others have walked out,“ , Fischer added.

The Hermann Gmeiner Day aims to stimulate an exchange of ideas and opinions about current topics of relevance to SOS Children’s Villages and society. The event was attended by approximately 70 people, including President Siddhartha Kaul and Honorary President Helmut Kutin.

Although the term Development Cooperation might not have been used in Herman Gmeiner’s lifetime, one will find many interesting statements relating to the subject in reading material on his work, said Christian Honold, Manager of the Herman Gmeiner Academy.


Further Hermann Gmeiner Days

Here you will find information about all the Hermann Gmeiner Days:


For more information please contact:

Dr. Christian Honold
+43 512 3316 5682