A call to make every child count at SOS Children Homes

April 16, 2021


Leadership transition for a succession president has commenced in the SOS Children Villages International Federation. One of the aspirants, Dr. Dereje Wordofa, an experienced international civil servant, has presented a lucid manifesto indicating willingness to align his beliefs with the vision and organisational values of the Federation, in addition to the legacy policies of past presidents to make every child count in the SOS Children Villages International Federation. He expressed his commitment to ensure every child belongs to a family and no child is left out because of accident of misfortune.

Wordofa expressed gratitude to all members that supported his nomination for the President of the SOS Children Villages International Federation. He affirmed that the manifesto reflects his “motivation, commitment, viewpoints, vision, and priorities with concrete actions to achieve a shared vision of the Federation, to continue transforming the lives of children and families worldwide.” He predicates his manifesto on the dreams and legacy of Hermann Gmeiner, the founding father of SOS Children’s Villages, indicating his aspiration to build on the achievements of Helmut Kutin, the first President, who led the Federation for many years with devotion and great acumen. The aspirant further acknowledged the incumbent President, Siddhartha Kaul, who he said, is tirelessly working for the organization and has done so much good for vulnerable children.

Wordofa, thereafter, conveyed his feelings of humility, inspiration, enthusiasm, courage, and excitement to all stakeholders of the Federation. The aspirant highlighted three motivation factors in contesting for the President of the Federation.

He affirmed that his beliefs are well aligned with the vision and organisational values of the Federation which imply Courage, Commitment, Trust, and Accountability.

He revealed his passion for interventionist humanitarian services to provide succour for vulnerable people and children uncared for in the society.

“I have always been passionate about working for a good cause that changes people’s lives for the better and SOS Children’s Villages is the right organization that can allow me to live my values.

“I do believe SOS Children’s Villages has made positive impact on the lives of children because it has a great vision with which I can eagerly be affiliated, Wordofa declared.

Secondly, the aspirant disclosed that he has over three decades of experience in international humanitarian and sustainable development programs, mostly in very demanding and challenging contexts. He pledged to deploy his experience of working with large multinational organisations, such as the UN, to run the SOS Presidency. Thirdly, he has wide exposure to humanitarian interventions from his roles in senior leadership capacity at national, regional, and global levels.

Wordofa, therefore, offered competence in governance, strategic decision making, team leadership, diplomatic skills, multicultural sympathy, and resilience. He added that his ability to network and communicate with a wide audience – communities, partner organisations, donors, decision makers and policy makers at the highest levels is an asset for effective leadership of the SOS Children Villages International Federation.

Wordofa recalled that prior to his UN assignment, he had served at SOS Children’s Villages, a period he learned the great potential of the organization, noting that he appreciated working with the organisation.

The candidate declared his commitment and love in working for children and young people; adding that for many years, he worked for children’s rights organisations. He expressed his belief that vulnerable children, without parental care or at risk of becoming orphaned, deserve quality care and protection regardless of their background.

“It is my privilege and honour to serve the vision of ‘every child belongs to a family’. My passion is to make use of my talent, knowledge, insight, and energy to promote quality childcare and child safeguarding.

“Simply, in collaboration with others, I enjoy driving change that will make a positive impact on the life of every child.

“All these commitments are consistent with my life-time dedication for social justice, equity and are proven by years of fight against poverty and inequality, with children as a high priority,” he highlighted.

Wordofa said that his vision is to build unity of all stakeholders to aim higher, remain optimistic and become more ambitious to create sustainable hope for vulnerable child everywhere, ‘leaving no one behind.’

He highlighted that this implies:

  • Every child who has lost parental care or is in danger of losing it should receive, through SOS Children’s Villages and its partners, direct care, and family support to nurture them at every stage of their development until maturity.
  • Giving greater attention to, and engage with, other key actors in influencing policy to protect, nurture, give hope and help the children enjoy their rights for healthier, happier lives.
  • To promote the organisation to be recognised across the world as a caregiver, standing up, and speaking out for children, particularly, those who have lost parental care or are in danger of losing it.

Wordofa remarked: “These ambitions and the opportunities for progress are realistic and achievable because SOS Children’s Villages has a proud history of successes and very rich experience and knowledge along with a massive global footprint of working for the rights of vulnerable children.”

He maintained: “More importantly, SOS Children’s Villages has a committed, competent, and compassionate workforce such as mothers, teachers and social workers and volunteers, including National Board Members who should be re-charged to continue living our shared values and leading together.

“I envision all leaders in the Federation (Senators, Management Team, and managers/Board members of MAs) to go beyond addressing challenges in the usual way.

“I would like to see we all become more creative and innovative in order to demonstrate a capacity for strong leadership of the Federation with a shared vision.”

The candidate highlighted five major priorities. He noted the urgency to maintain strong unity among all members and enhance the workplace culture that respects everyone in order to unleash the potential of the Federation.

He acknowledged that the 2030 Strategy has determined priorities of the Federation, promising he will continue to guide the implementations.

He indicated readiness to accommodate voices of discontent, promising to continue to listen to such voices and take them seriously.

Wordofa added that the priorities are set in the context of the global Coronavirus pandemic that triggered widespread uncertainties, which will set the sector back with several years of achievements, combined with other persistent external challenges (economic recession, increase in poverty, armed conflict, climate change, etc.) and co-workers who are fatigued by the effects of the pandemic that has caused so much loss and grief.

He, however, declared that the Federation is a prominent childcare movement, probably one of the ‘invisible treasures’ of this world.

The candidate acknowledged that in the past 72 years, the organization has navigated through tough times, accomplished a lot, and expanded its programmes to reach out to more children in need.

He declared: “Apparently, the Federation is becoming increasingly dynamic, organised and has a committed workforce who deeply understand the power of working together.

“Therefore, the inspiration for these priorities is founded in the premise of opportunities for a resilient SOS Children’s Villages that adjust to unpredictable realities but remains optimistic and focuses on future gains.”

Wordofa promised that in leading the Federation, he will focus on and work with all stakeholders to implement five priorities, which are the following:

  1. Unity of all stakeholders and improved workplace culture: shaping the workplace culture; to nurture an atmosphere where everyone is respected, listened to, and valued; cultivate quality relationships, build a spirit of unity through trust, mutual respect that is free of prejudices and reimagine a powerful solidarity to make things happen and work effectively together for children.
  2. Strong and cohesive governance:Willing to listen to all parts and members of the Federation; ensure transparency, clarity of purpose for the International Senate, increased participation of all members, adherence to the statutes of the Federation, a proactive and consistent approach to consensus building, sound strategic decisions on time and a well-executed governance structure.
  3. Quality and sustainable childcare: oversee high-level results for quality care, including robust systems for child safeguarding and improved regulatory compliance; give important attention to program accountability along with value for money and sustainability.
  4. Accelerate actions on the Strategy 2030 – No Child Should Grow Up Alone: To inspire innovation and ingenuity for future gains, drive the exploitation of technologies, seek new partnerships – including in the philanthropy and private sectors – to accelerate positive impact, and join up fundraising efforts to scale up outreach to more vulnerable children.
  5. Global solidarity about children: Improve the visibility of the SOS Children’s Villages brand to advance children’s rights worldwide and firmly stand for vulnerable children by engaging with other children’s rights organisations, the UN system, governments, and global movements/forces.

Wordofa noted that in building on the vision of the founding father and the contribution of the subsequent two Presidents, he will use his passion, skills, and experience to add value in leading an effective global childcare movement.

He promised to stimulate trust and confidence in each other, cultivate healthy relationships and build unity among all stakeholders to nurture children filled with hope. He pointed out that he will not take his success in the role for granted, promising to adopt an open-door policy, ensure inclusiveness and count on collaboration with every individual associated with the Federation.

Profile: Wordofa had a devoted adult life to humanitarian service, human development, social policy, and lasting peace. In the past three decades, he has worked with five international organisations, including those focused on promoting children’s rights.

Wordofa has traveled to over 70 nations and lived in six countries – besides his home country, Ethiopia – to execute international assignments and responsibilities.

In his travels and career, Wordofa has appreciated unity in diversity. He was able to interact, dialogue and share various experiences, shared ideas and find solutions to problems.

In his role as the UN Assistant Secretary General, with a focus on the implementation of Agenda 2030, he promised to ‘leave no one behind’.

Before the UN appointment, he served as the Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as being Deputy COO for Africa/Middle East.

The three and a half years exposed Wordofa to the great potential of SOS Children’s Villages.

The candidate obtained MSc, MBA, and doctoral degrees from recognised universities.

Wordofa profile shows rich credential and parcel of principled leadership required for expansion and acceleration of interventionist humanitarian services by non-state actors.


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