Totally enthralled. That was the reaction of the children at SOS Children’s Villages in Alibaug, India, when on October 12 Hollywood couple Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard jumped on stage to dance to a popular Marathi song.
Marathi is the language spoken in Maharashtra, the state in which SOS Children’s Villages recently opened SOS-Alibaug, its fortieth village in India. Alibaug is just south of Mumbai, Maharashtra’s capital.
What were two of America’s most critically acclaimed actors doing on an SOS stage in western India? Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard are global ambassadors for SOS Children’s Villages and its partner Esprit. The two joined forces in 2008, when global lifestyle brand Esprit committed to working with SOS in India to support long-term care for 140 abandoned children and programs to keep poor families intact.
Esprit currently supports six SOS family strengthening programs in the Delhi area. These programs help stabilize families by providing education and sorely needed medical care. The new SOS Children’s Village in Alibaug was completely financed by Esprit. The village contains 14 family houses for 140 children. SOS cares for 6,000 children across India.
Inspired by SOS’s Work around the Globe
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard actively engage in human rights and anti-poverty initiatives. Their involvement with SOS stems from their concern for India’s homeless children and their admiration for what SOS has accomplished.
India has the largest population of street children in the world; at least 18 million children live or work on the streets of urban India, said Gyllenhaal. A quarter million of these boys and girls are in Mumbai alone. They lack the basic rights to love and security.
“Protecting children’s rights is a universal responsibility that requires global commitment from us all,” said Gyllenhaal. “It’s a privilege for Peter and I to join hands with Esprit and promote the remarkable work of SOS Children’s Villages, which for the past sixty years has continued to give children worldwide love, security, and a nurturing environment that only a family can provide.”