J.K. Rowling sheds light on Lumos in compelling, original article

via Guardian

Archive photo of J.K. Rowling, via Guardian

On Thursday, J.K. Rowling published a compelling piece on the importance of the cause of her charity, to end the institutionalization of children around the world.

Lumos founder J.K. Rowling wrote the article, which is available at jkrowling.com and http://www.wearelumos.org, to mark the launch of Lumos USA and shed light on the issue. Excerpts are inserted below.

In addition, from now until May 10th, Lumos USA will run an online sweepstakes that is open for every U.S. resident who donates over $10 to their fund to reunite children with their families. Prizes include signed copies of J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives, a VIP trip for four to Universal Orlando Resort, and tickets to Comic Con in San Diego in July 2015. All donations to Lumos will be directed towards its projects on the ground. For information on how to enter the sweepstakes, click here.

According to their website, Lumos will be launching another campaign sweepstakes soon for those who are not eligible. The charity continues with their #LetsTalkLumos campaign, which launched last year. For more information on the launch of Lumos in the USA, visit this page. Lumos Foundation USA headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.

Selected excerpts of the article:

The success of the Harry Potter books has taken me to places that never, in my most optimistic daydreams, did I visualize myself. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would one day stand in the Oval Office, I would have advised you to change your medication. My disbelief would have been no less extreme had you prophesied a trip to Buckingham Palace, or to 10 Downing Street, or to a fake hillock in the middle of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. Yet I really did go to those places and each occasion lives in my memory like a cinematic still, as though it happened to somebody else.

In the last eighteen years I have also spoken to thousands of children: at literary festivals, in schools, hospitals and bookshops, outside premieres and while doing my shopping. These encounters have almost always been joyful. However, some such interactions are not preserved as cheerful images in my mental scrapbook. They haunt me. The sensations of powerlessness and unhappiness that I experienced at the time rise again whenever I think about them: they are rising now.

The good news is that this is an entirely solvable problem. Lumos has spent 10 years working in Europe, where institutionalization of children was a major concern, especially in formerly Communist countries. Lumos advocates retraining institutional employees as community-based health and social workers. Institutional buildings can be repurposed to house community services. Encouragingly, a ‘tipping point’ has now been achieved: most countries in that region have plans to end institutionalization. Furthermore, the US government and the European Union are taking a lead in changing the way foreign assistance is delivered, to move the focus onto protecting and supporting families.

However, there is still much work to do. The United Nations is currently creating a set of post-2015 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, which aim to ensure ‘no-one is left behind’. Lumos is concerned that, while early drafts focus on the importance of early childhood development, they contain no recognition of the essential role that parents play in nurturing and raising children. Meanwhile, the numbers of children in so-called orphanages continues to rise in areas outside Europe. Lumos has now begun work in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We have started in Haiti, where approximately 30,000 children are currently living in almost entirely privately funded orphanages. Once again, we find the familiar ratio of 80% non-orphans, and recognize the driving force of poverty.

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.

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