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Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children's Villages International, has said there are 200 million children in distress across the world, including children without parental care. While SOS Children's Villages of India has reached out to over a million children through its advocacy, family strengthening and family-like care programmes, that is clearly not enough. "We all need to deepen and strengthen existing partnerships with governments, institutions and partners, as well as forge new partnerships to make a difference in the lives of millions of more children worldwide, including in India," he said.
Dr. Dereje Wordofa is currently on a visit to India. He spent a day at SOS Children's Villages at Bannerghatta, Bengaluru, which is home to more than 100 children without parental care. Hailing from Ethiopia, Dr. Dereje Wordofa has been the President of SOS Children's Villages since June 2021 when he was elected by the General Assembly, the organisation's highest governance body. He is the fourth president in the 70-plus-year history of SOS Children's Villages. Prior to joining SOS, Dr. Wordofa's career took him on a journey from being a programme officer in the field to a diplomatic role as the United Nation's Assistant Secretary General of the UN Population Fund.
Dr. Dereje Wordofa said "An estimated 153 million children, worldwide, are orphans; across the globe, there are more than 160 million child labourers, accounting for almost 11% of children. Nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of 5 can be attributed to undernutrition, resulting in the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year. These are not mere figures; these are lives; these lives constitute our future; the future of nations and the world. There is an ongoing, much-need collective effort from individuals, organizations, agencies, governments and such, to take care of these children. However, as the figures reflect, so much more needs to be achieved, and this too at a sustained, yet accelerated pace."
The journey of SOS Children's Villages in India began in 1964. Today, the institution is present in 32 States and Union Territories of the country, serving more than 30,000 children each year. "This just goes to establish our strong bond with India. However, there is so much more that needs to be done, for which we are actively welcoming partnerships and collaboration at various levels, as we understand the need for a collective effort," he added.