View of the Children´s Village in Medan
I think this is an interesting obituary for a visionary figure within our charity. Dr Agus Prawoto sadly died at the beginning of 2009. In his lifetime he did remarkable things for the disadvantaged children of Indonesia:
A chance meeting with Dr Hermann Gmeiner in 1968 was a turning point in the life of Dr Agus Prawoto who was pursuing a doctorate degree from University of Vienna in Austria. He liked the childcare concept of Hermann Gmeiner and after his study became an educator at SOS Children's Village Salzburg in Austria.
He was already aware of the dismal situation of the children back home in Indonesia. There were no credible childcare agencies in Indonesia at that point of time and the government programmes were inadequate to make a difference. The idea of a SOS Children's Village in Indonesia steadily developed in the mind of the visionary Dr Prawoto.
He returned to Indonesia and, with like-minded people, established SOS Desa Taruna Indonesia in 1971. The first SOS Children's Village was established at Lembang near Bandung in 1972. Today there are eight SOS Childrens Villages and 21 ancillary facilities run by the SOS Desa Taruna Indonesia. Among them, three SOS Children's Villages were established at Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and Medan after the tsunami devastation.
"He was instrumental in transformation of many lives in Indonesia and I saw personally how close he was to a child, he always tried to bring some positive things for children in this country. I lost my father and my friend, I really have no words to explain how great his soul was." said Tatang Kurnia who grew in SOS Children's Village Lembang, and is now heading SOS Children's Village Medan.
For 25 years, Dr Prawoto was the national director of SOS Desa Taruna Indonesia and was a member of the Senate of SOS-Kinderdorf International from 1993 to 1998. In 1997, he became President of the Board of SOS Children's Villages Indonesia and in 2003 assumed the mantle of Chairman of the Steering Board. The government of Indonesia bestowed many awards on him for the noble work he was doing. In 1985, the governor of West Java recognized his efforts for abandoned children and in 1991 ministry of Social Welfare honoured him.
The civil society in Indonesia appreciates the work of SOS Children's Village. After witnessing tsunami reconstruction work, a politician in Meulaboh had this to say, "After the tsunami many non-governmental organisations thronged Meulaboh for relief work, I thanked all of them but I single out SOS Childrens Villages for keeping its commitment. SOS has not only done initial relief work after the tsunami, but stays in the lives of people here. They built houses, social centres, schools, community buildings and made a beautiful Childrens Village where orphaned children find a home. Its really a wonderful thing that has been done by the organisation.