J.K. Rowling writes about Lumos and her desire to make changes

In a new piece for the Guardian, J.K. Rowling has written about why she set up her charity, Lumos, and why it’s important to change the way things are. Jo set up Lumos after reading about the way that millions of children are locked away in institutions across Europe. She writes,

It was a black-and-white photograph in a newspaper. It showed a small boy, locked in a caged bed in a residential institution. His hands clutched what appeared to be chicken wire containing him, and his expression was agonised. There would be no Lumos – the charity dedicated to closing child institutions and so-called orphanages – if there hadn’t first been this picture. I knew the immediate shameful impulse to turn away, to hide the page, not to look.

Jo further writes,

Again and again, when I quote the statistics to people who are not familiar with the field – 8 million children separated from their families worldwide – they are aghast and disbelieving. ‘How could that happen,’ they ask, ‘without the whole world knowing?’ The answer is really quite simple: who is easier to silence than a child? Especially a child with mental or physical disabilities, who is taken away from a family that has been convinced that it is for the best or whose only alternative is watching that child starve.

She says,

The idea of any child being taken from their family and locked away, all too often in atrocious conditions, is particularly poignant at this time of year. For children in institutions, life too often resembles the darkest of Grimms’ fairytales.

Jo further writes about the devastating effect of separation and poor treatment:

The impact of not having the love and attention of a dedicated carer is profound. It can cause stunting, developmental delays and psychological trauma. I have seen babies who have learned not to cry because nobody comes. I have met children so desperate for affection that they will crawl into any stranger’s lap.

Damage is done very early, and it is lasting. Cut off from society, institutionalised children return to the world with their chances of a happy, healthy life greatly impaired, often unable to find employment, excluded from the community and more likely to enter into a lifetime of poverty and dependency.

A crucial point is that these dire effects apply to children from all kinds of institutions, including those that are well resourced. The solution is not pretty murals or comfier beds or teddy bears. The solution is no institutions.

Finally, Jo writes,

 It is my dream that, within my lifetime, the very concept of taking a child away from its family and locking it away will seem to belong to a cruel, fictional world.

Read the full, and moving, piece here.

Lumos is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to help these children. The campaign is only days away from ending, and they really need your support. Find out more and see how you can donate here. A digital campaign has also been launched with the hashtag #LetsTalkLumos. Find out how to get involved here.