SEATTLE — J.K. Rowling is a name that many of us have heard and grown up with thanks to the magical stories of Harry Potter. Rowling is an inspiration to struggling writers for she persevered despite her failures. It is her belief that failure is at the core of success and it’s the act of getting up again that steers one towards triumph. Even after the world acclaim gained by Harry Potter the world over, J.K. Rowling has never faltered in giving back to her community and to that effect she created the Lumos foundation.
For those unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, Lumos is a spell used to cast light in the darkest of places. As Dumbledore advises his students in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
The Lumos foundation, conceived in 2005, has at its core this concept of finding light at the end of the tunnel. In reflecting on its conception, J.K. Rowling disclosed during an interview in 2012, “It chose me. I was reading an article by an undercover reporter who had gone into a care home in Eastern Europe and there were disabled children being kept in cage beds, which are effectively cots covered in chicken wire. The article was accompanied by such a shocking image and I couldn’t get it out of my head.” From this moment on, Rowling knew that she had to make a drastic change to help the lives of the 8 million “orphans” living in these horrid institutions around the world. To do this she started the community-based service, Lumos, with the aim of helping these children and teaching individuals around the world about the consequences of poorly managed orphanages/care homes.
On October 11, 2017, it was announced that the Lumos Foundation would be expanding its services. The announcement was made during a ‘Symposium on the transformation of child care services in Colombia held at the La Fontana Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia. Colombia is a country in constant turmoil thanks to its government. Georgette Mulheir, Executive Director of Lumos, states, “[It’s] going through a postwar period. We know that there are years of risk to preserve peace but also many opportunities…Our purpose is to use local expertise…at an international level so that in 5 years the system of child protection will be completely different.” By traveling to countries in need of child protection and lending a helping hand, awareness is being raised as to how extensive the crisis is. The Lumos foundation has set a goal “to complete the institutionalization of children in Europe by 2030 and worldwide by 2050.”
There is no doubt that J.K. Rowling has used her platform to enact extraordinary changes in the lives of many in need children. As she has said in her video message on the Lumos Foundation site, “Conflict and disaster can destroy the foundations of family life. When countries suffer the effect of extreme poverty, the bond which holds families together can easily be broken apart.” Families shouldn’t have to make the choice to separate themselves from their children in the hope of providing them with a better chance at a good future. Instead, communities should work together to help bring peace and ascertain a good future for all. Although families may think they are providing their children with a brighter future by leaving them at these orphanages, the reality is that the children will be constantly competing for attention and love. Orphanages with limited staff can become over-packed and this leads to the neglect of the children there. Lumos is striving to “change the lives of millions of children and give them strong beginnings – and the futures they deserve.”
– Nicole Suárez