J.K. Rowling launches Lumos USA with touching plea to end institutionalization

J.K. Rowling and Lumos today announced the launch of Lumos USA, which will be based out of New York City. In addition to the launch, Lumos USA will be hosting a sweepstakes for all donors of $10 or more with a chance to win prizes, including signed copies of Very Good Lives, a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, and a trip to San Diego Comic-Con International in California.

Rowling announced the launch by posting on her Facebook page:

J.K. Rowling has written a personal, thought-provoking and copyright free account on why we need to see an end the…

Posted by J.K. Rowling on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jo’s article, which can be read in full here, outlines the necessity of ending institutionalization of children around the world. She writes movingly of her visits to orphanages around the world, recounting one of her first visits:

My visit to the foreign orphanage was not supposed to be upsetting, or not as far as the staff was concerned. The woman in charge beamed as the three[-]year[-]olds swarmed around the strange visitor, eager for her attention. Those children neither knew nor cared about Harry Potter; all they craved was affection. We could not speak each other’s language, but that did not deter the little girl with the shaven head. She crawled into my lap and beamed up at me. If you have ever had a totally unfamiliar toddler cling to you in the evident hope that you might simply take them away with you, you will probably understand what it felt like to detach her fingers and leave.

Her recollections are heartbreaking and hard to read but emphasize the vital importance of the work Lumos is doing.

My worst memories, though, are of the vast impersonal children’s home in Eastern Europe where I saw three children with severe cerebral palsy sharing a single bed. They were tube fed, washed and otherwise totally ignored. An English-speaking nurse confided in me that another young disabled girl in her care kept asking for her mother. When the little girl’s pleas became too much, the nurse would leave work and telephone the ward, pretending to be the mother who had been convinced that no contact was in the best interests of a child who was begging for her.

She concludes by highlighting the positive change Lumos has already affected but stresses that there is so much more work to be done. It is within our power to help end these children’s suffering.

Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050. This is ambitious but achievable. It is also essential. Eight million voiceless children are currently suffering globally under a system that, according to all credible research, is indefensible. We owe them far, far better. We owe them families.

We’re sure the addition of Lumos USA will be an important step in achieving this goal. Be sure to read the full press release below, including information on how you can enter the sweepstakes.

J.K. Rowling lights up the Empire State Building to launch her children’s non-profit organization, Lumos USA