SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. It was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Imst, Austria. The organization’s work focuses on abandoned, destitute and orphaned children requiring family-based child care. The first prominent supporter was the German British businesswoman Beatrice von Boch-Galhau, wife of the largest shareholder of the ceramic manufacturer Villeroy & Boch. She became friends with the at-the-time unknown Hermann Gmeiner. In 1959, she employed some of her private fortune to pay for the first Kinderdorf in Germany located in Merzig Hilbringen.