Lumos Shortlisted in UK 2015 Charity Awards
J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, has been shortlisted for the UK 2015 Charity Awards in recognition of its work in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country.
Lumos’s work in Moldova has focused reforming the country’s child protection services and getting children out of harmful institutions. A large portion of their work has been working to get special needs children – often sent to institutions because their families lack the resources to care for them – back to their homes and into mainstream schools. Their hard work over the past four years has already made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of Moldovian children – the number of special needs children educated in regular schools has increased 350% – from 1,253 to 4,495.
Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir has said of the announcement,
We are delighted to be shortlisted, and we’re proud of our team in Moldova, who have done so much to improve the lives of some of their country’s most disadvantaged children.
Dr. Irina Malanciuc, leader of the Lumos team in Moldova, added,
Moldova committed to closing child institutions and returning children to family life. But it had no system to allow inclusive education in local mainstream schools for thousands of disabled children who were living away from home and their families in grim residential special schools. Lumos designed and helped create mainstream inclusive education services from scratch, and we showed that an inclusive model could work for all children. We know of many, many children with disabilities who are now able to return home from living in institutions and orphanages and [are] happily learning in local schools, alongside non-disabled fellow pupils in their own communities.
Fourteen-year-old Dumitriţa is one of the children with disabilities Lumos has helped during its time there. At a conference in November, Dumitriţa spoke of her experiences:
I lived for five years in an institution. The time I spent there seemed like an eternity. I felt like I was in a dark labyrinth where I couldn’t find the light. Only the hope that the day would come when I could go back home gave me strength. My biggest dream was to be with my parents and sister. Everything I dreamed of came true. I came back home, and everything changed. I’ve been studying at the school in my village for two years now. At the beginning it was very hard; I was afraid that the other children would not talk to me, but it was completely different. My colleagues and teachers were nice to me. They offered me a lot of support and continue to do so. They help me with homework, moving around the school, carrying my backpack.
The steps that Lumos has taken to achieve its goals include training over 10,000 teachers and officials, helping the government invest savings from closing institutions into services for mainstream schools, and more. They are currently working to analyze educational services in 24 counties across Moldova, with the hope that they will soon be able to expand their work. The change that Lumos has been able to bring about is remarkable not only for the difference it has made in the lives of so many children in Moldova but also because it proves that child care reform is possible even in the poorest of countries.
The winner of the award will be announced at an event in London on June 18 – good luck to Lumos and the rest of the shortlisted nominees!