J.K. Rowling cares for the children all around the world. However, she had never thought it possible just how much her life would change from the success of the Harry Potter book series.
She states on her website that she never imagined that she would be able to go to places such as the White House, the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, or Buckingham Palace. If someone would have even suggested such a thing, she would have thought they were crazy. Rowling says she still can not believe it happened to her. The series has truly taken her further than she ever expected, and showed her the children that need her help. Harry Potter has opened the door, allowed her to reach out, and do even more for the children who have no love or emotional support.
Rowling has talked to, and cared about, over a thousand children since the series became popular; she visits literacy fairs all over the world, and will even stop and talk to children in book stores or when she is doing her food and clothes shopping. Most of the time it is such a pleasant experience, but on a few occasions it was so sad for her that she gets upset just thinking about it. When she visited a foreign orphanage, it was supposed to be a fun and educational experience for the children. However, but they were all too starved of attention and had never heard of Harry Potter. They just wanted to be on her lap, and get hugs from her.
The next children’s institution Rowling visited was no different; she was led in to a room with many babies who were so very quiet, it was if they knew crying would bring no satisfaction. When she posed for pictures she had to hold back the tears, and put on a brave face. One of Rowling’s most upsetting memories is in Europe, when she saw three severely handicapped girls sharing one bed with feeding tubes. Other than feeding and bathing, they got no attention. One child cries for her mom; when the nurse can not take her crying anymore, she goes across the street to a pay phone and calls to speak to the child, and then she pretends to be her mother who will not spend time with a child that cries.
There are millions of children living in orphanages, but more than 85 percent are not orphans. Looking at the children so starved for human contact was so upsetting to her. Rowling did some research, and she found the organization Lumos, which is set up to help families get their children back home with them. Their goal is to keep children and their families together.
No child should be forced to live away from their family because they are poor or handicapped. Lumos works with the government, as well as various communities, in order to change the systems that have become obsolete. In doing so, this helps reunite the child with its parents. Lumos works to replace institutions with services with in the community so that the children will have the medical and educational services that meet their own personal needs. This gives families the ability to give their children the love and care they need to grow up happy and healthy, so they can have a more positive future.
The current facilities in foreign countries are so cold and impersonal that children grow up unloved. This can cause psychological damage that can rescind their ability to understand right from wrong. According to one recent study, children raised in institutions or orphanages are much more likely to commit crimes or attempt suicide when they reach young adulthood. Rowling is not only the founder of Lumos, but is the president, and she pushes her mission to care for the children that have been forgotten about and/or discriminated against.
Written by Katherine Miller-Chichester
JKRowling: Latest announcements
Lumos: About Lumos
The Independent: JK Rowling’s Lumos charity striving to end the institutionalisation of all children in Europe by 2030
Photo courtesy of SAM Nasim’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License