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Skål global president Nik Racic gives 20,000 euros to SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti

eTN Staff Writer  May 21, 2010

FRANKFURT, Germany - On the occasion of IMEX – the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings, and events - in Frankfurt am Main, Nik Racic (Croatia), global president of the target="_blank">Skål International e. V. global tourism network, will be presenting a check in the amount of 20,000 euros to the SOS Children’s Villages on the Caribbean island of Haiti. This amount was collected in response to a request for donations that the executive committee sent to members, and Skål wants to use it to make a contribution towards alleviating need in the disaster area. The check will be presented on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 7:00 pm at the Hotel InterContinental Frankfurt, Wilhelm-Leuschner-Straße 43. Besides global president Nik Racic, the ceremony will be attended by director Karine Coulanges (France) from the executive committee; Bend Hadler (Denmark), who is president of the International Council; Thomas Aurich, the German president; and Skål general secretary Jim Power (Spain).

Skål International e. V., the global network of entrepreneurs and executives in the tourism industry, currently has about 20,000 members in 89 countries, who are organized in 480 local clubs. According to the articles of association, membership is only possible for natural persons; corporate memberships are not permitted.

Skål, which was founded in 1934, is the oldest network in the industry. To date, it is the only one that operates worldwide, uniting members from all areas of the tourism industry, the hotel sector, and the transportation business. Its members maintain friendly relations and mutually support one another in their business development. Furthermore, Skål advocates sustainable tourism development, and supporting and encouraging young professionals in the industry is one of its declared objectives.

The German section - Skål International Deutschland e. V. – with the name of “Vereinigung deutscher Wirtschaftsclubs für Tourismus,” i.e., union of German economic associations for tourism, has about 2,000 members in 32 clubs between the Alps and the Baltic Sea.

The name “Skål” is derived from the Scandinavian toast of the same name, which is regarded as a symbol of hospitality. That hospitality is what a group of travel agency employees from Paris experienced in 1932 when they were traveling in Northern Europe on an educational tour. The desire to have friends with the same professional interests all over the world led to the foundation of the network, which quickly spread throughout extensive parts of the world.

By supporting the SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti, once again Skål members are channeling their social responsibility commitment by making an effort to help children. For several years, the tourism professionals, hoteliers, and transportation experts have already been supporting ECPAT, the children’s protection organization that takes action against sexual abuse of children in countries that are travel destinations.

The extent of the disaster on the Caribbean island of Haiti after the severe earthquake on January 12, 2010, has shocked Skål members worldwide. Their desire to help is clearly evident from the amount of the donation. Almost one third of that amount, namely 6,500 euros, was contributed by the members of the German Skål clubs. As a consequence of the most severe earthquake in the history of the American continent, 300,000 people lost their lives and 1.3 million islanders were left homeless or lost everything. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world.

The work of the SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti began in the year 1979. At present, there are two SOS children’s villages and two SOS facilities for adolescents, two vocational training centers, and two schools, as well as 4 SOS social centers on the island. The SOS children’s village of Santo was built in 1984, about twelve kilometers from Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. It consists of 19 family houses with space to accommodate 190 children, a community building, a building for the village director, a building for the SOS aunts, and a small medical ward.

After the Second World War, the Austrian Hermann Gmeiner (1919-1986) founded the SOS Children’s Villages where orphaned children could grow up in family-like living setting. Up to the present, children’s villages have been created in 42 countries on four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, and America) as a result of his idea.

Skål global president Nik Racic gives 20,000 euros to SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti
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