ZAGREB, 31 July 2020 – 21-year-old Croatian Kristina Ivanuš has won the Hermann Gmeiner Award, an award which honours individuals who as children were cared for in an SOS Children’s Villages programme and have grown into adult role models in their community.
Every two years, the Hermann Gmeiner Award provides an occasion to recognise two exceptional adults who as children received care from SOS programmes, and who have inspired with their accomplishments and contributions to society.
Kristina, who grew up in the Lekenik SOS Children’s Villages in central Croatia and now studies at University in Zagreb, has always been deeply concerned with sea pollution. As a competitive diver and underwater photographer, Kristina actively works in Croatia to raise awareness on preserving the diversity and richness of our seas.
Kristina’s love for diving and other sports marked a turning point in her life. Sports was a way for her to overcome a neurological condition that made it difficult for her to walk as a child. After completing a diving course in 2016, Kristina became a diving model as well as started to compete. She won medal after medal in competitions, nationally and abroad. The active lifestyle paid off in more important ways: in 2018, medical tests showed her neurological condition, radiculoneuritis, was gone. Today, she often visits the SOS Youth Facility where she tries to motivate the young residents to pursue sports, and diving in particular.
“This year, some 60 people were nominated, eight of whom – four women and four men – were selected as finalists. A public online vote is meant to typically yield two winners, but this year the Board of the Hermann Gmeiner Academy has decided to make an exception. For more than 20 days, during the voting phase, an internet blackout in Ethiopia meant people from that country were not able to vote, putting one of the men’s finalists at a disadvantage. Therefore, the Board has decided to name three winners this year, honouring the two top vote-getters in the men’s category. We congratulate Kristina Ivanuš of Croatia, Lucian Mustata of Romania, and Gebre-egziabher Gebre of Ethiopia as the winners of the Hermann Gmeiner Award 2020,” SOS Children’s Villages International said in a statement.
“Kristina, Lucian and Gebre-egziabher are living proof that care and support have the power to not only change the lives of individuals but of communities as a whole,” SOS SOS Children’s Villages International concluded.
Kristina, Lucian and Gebre-egziabher will be honoured during the General Assembly of SOS Children’s Villages in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2021.