J.K. Rowling Participates in Live Chat to Launch We Are Lumos Worldwide
Earlier today, J.K. Rowling participated in a live chat broadcast on Facebook to launch the latest initiative of her charity, Lumos, called We Are Lumos Worldwide! As described on Lumos’s official website, We Are Lumos Worldwide is
[…] an exciting series of global events to help some of the world’s most vulnerable children leave orphanages and regain their right to a family life.
At the official Lumos event, Rowling spoke with host Lauren Laverne about why the work that Lumos does to end the institutionalization of children worldwide is so important. The points that Rowling made, in particular, included statistics on the children who are currently institutionalized around the world.
For example, 80% of the eight million children in the world’s institutions are not actually orphans, and many of them have family members who are unable to care for them due to issues such as poverty, which Rowling referred to as being “the number-one driver into institutions.”
Discussing the importance of the family-based care for which Lumos advocates, Rowling also cited a Russian study that showed that institutionalized children are ten times more likely to enter prostitution, fifty times more likely to have a criminal past, and five hundred times more likely to commit suicide.
Because poverty has such a great impact, Rowling also cautioned against the lure of “voluntourism,” which sees foreign volunteers bringing currency into impoverished areas. Although Rowling acknowledged that the volunteers themselves often have good intentions, she stated of voluntourism,
It’s a money magnet.
She went on to say,
At the most grizzly, ghastly, and appalling end, it’s a magnet for abusers.
Volunteers, Rowling explained, only stay for short periods of time, which leads to more problems for the children in institutions, many of whom already suffer from attachment disorders. In short, she said,
Voluntourism really does no one any good.
Referencing a recent Twitter rant in which she decried the practice of voluntourism, Rowling explained that an organization had tweeted her to promote its own voluntourism efforts. She then reiterated that the goal of Lumos is to do away with institutions and retrain workers, where appropriate, to offer community-based care.
She also encouraged 18- and 19-year-olds who are considering volunteer work abroad to, instead,
Go volunteer in a community-based project. Do your research.
Of the workers in institutions who rely on them for their livelihoods, Rowling ensured that Lumos is helping to retrain them to work as nurses or in other appropriate settings. Saying that “systemic changes” are needed, Rowling expressed,
If you take nothing else away tonight, I would like you to remember [that] this is a solvable problem.
Giving money to community-based organizations instead of orphanages is one step, she said:
The re-education, in itself, will stop this, going forward.
Finally, Rowling also spoke to the advocacy work that the Harry Potter fandom has done to spread Lumos’s goals:
They are extraordinary. I’ve never heard of a fandom that’s so engaged, and they are a real activist fandom. I’m immensely proud of them.
For those who are wondering how to get involved, Rowling shared this advice for Muggles and wizards alike:
Do the best you can, where you are, with what you’ve got.
You can find out more about We Are Lumos Worldwide on its official website here. You can also watch J.K. Rowling’s live chat with Lauren Laverne below:
An official press release for the event has been released, which you can read below!
A photo of Rowling and Laverne has also been released.
What do you think of Lumos’s work? Were you shocked by any of the facts that were mentioned in the live chat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!