Her Majesty Queen Noor was the featured speaker at the SOS Children's Villages 60th Anniversary celebration at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by His Excellency, the Ambassador of Austria, Dr. Christian Prosl, on November 2, 2009. U.S. Senator George LeMieux from Florida, who has visited the SOS Children's Village in the Fort Lauderdale area, also attended. The event was sponsored by Cartier, Amway Corporation, Genworth Financial, Hasbro, Inc., and HSBC.
The program highlight was Her Majesty Queen Noor's account of her experiences with SOS Children's Villages. "I wish that each of you could have the experience of supporting an SOS child, and visiting an SOS Village somewhere in the world. It changed my life, and it indeed would change yours."
Queen Noor further described the SOS role in systemic change: "I am particularly pleased that SOS plays its own special role in peacemaking and cross-cultural understanding in the 132 countries where it operates. A strong tenet of SOS is to respect every child's right to dignity, love, security and the freedom to practice any faith, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or other. These core values of the SOS Village are now increasingly being extended to poor families in surrounding communities, making SOS a prime advocate for tolerance, gender equality, diversity and cultural understanding."
Her Majesty Queen Noor presented the SOS Anniversary Award to Johnson & Johnson for its support of SOS Children's Villages in Africa since 1994. Sharon D'Agostino, Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Contributions and Community Relations for Johnson & Johnson, accepted the award and shared her experiences visiting SOS Children's Villages.
"Last year, while I was visiting one of the Villages... I welled up because I was so touched by my experience. As I was leaving, the director came and tapped me on the shoulder and told me, 'I want you and Johnson & Johnson to know that, while I am a Village Director today, I was raised in this village.' And it was one of the most incredible moments that I've had in this terrific job representing our corporation and its commitment to corporate responsibility. I thank SOS Children's Villages and all of you supporters for that experience and this award. Thank you."
For 60 years, SOS Children's Villages has been dedicated to the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. With 500 villages in 132 countries, SOS offers a family-based village model that provides for the holistic needs of a child -- family, community, education and support -- essential for the successful transition from childhood into adulthood. Through Villages, schools, medical facilities, micro-lending, and family strengthening programs, SOS Children's Villages impacts the lives of over 1 million people each year. In 2009, SOS Children's Villages was honored with the Save the World Award. SOS has also been awarded the Mother Teresa Gold Medal, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and the Vietnam Friendship Medal. For more information, visit www.sos-usa.org.
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