Earlier this week, J.K. Rowling published a powerful article in The Guardian regarding her charity, Lumos. Headlined, “Isn’t it time we left orphanages to fairytales?” Rowling begins her column by recounting the heart-wrenching image of an institutionalized boy she saw in a newspaper ten years ago. Locked in a caged bed, the boy’s hands clutching at the wire surrounding him, the picture devastated her so much that she immediately began seeking a solution.
Founded in 2005, Lumos strives to shut down child institutions and “orphanages,” and help displaced children return to loving homes.
Through her research, Rowling learned that more than 8 million children worldwide are institutionalized, and the shocking fact that, in many cases, the children in these institutions have parents and family members who are still living. The main reason that children fall into these places is because their parents are unable or unwilling to take care of them. Growing up in these kinds of deplorable conditions has been proven to have a drastic, negative affect on the quality of life, education, and overall humanity of these children. Malnutrition, failure to thrive, abuse, trafficking, and even death are all common outcomes of child institutions. Rowling knew that she had to do something to put an end to the suffering of these children.
Named after the Harry Potter spell that produces light in dark places, Lumos has moved swiftly through Europe to bring hope to these children. Efforts in Moldova (Europe’s poorest nation), the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria have seen extraordinarily significant decreases in new admissions to institutions, as well as a vast increase of caregivers and foster care, providing much-needed loving family environments. If this kind of success keeps growing, the institutionalization of children can be globally eradicated by the year 2050.
In order to end child institutionalization for good, Lumos needs us all to keep the issue alive and create awareness in our own parts of the world. Last month, the charity and J.K. Rowling launched #letstalklumos—a social media campaign that was created for the very purpose of keeping the issue fresh in the world’s mind. Just because we may not see what goes on in some corners of the world does not mean that it can be pushed under the rug, into the dark. Rowling ends with these simple, yet impactful words: “I recently committed to becoming president of Lumos for life. It is my dream that, within my lifetime, the very concept of taking a child away from its family and locking it away will seem to belong to a cruel, fictional world.”
On Wednesday, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling urged some of the world’s largest international aid donors, including the EU and the US Government, to use funding for the deinstitutionalization of orphans.
In London, J.K. Rowling addressed more than 50 government representatives from the world at a conference entitled In Our Lifetime: a Global Conference to End the Institutionalisation of Children, hosted by the author’s charity, Lumos. Rowling spoke against orphanages and institutions, arguing that “children have a legal and moral right to a family life and that institutions, despite the best intentions, cannot give the love and care they need to grow and reach their potential,” according to the author’s website.
“I recently committed to becoming President of Lumos for Life,” Rowling said in her speech, “and it is my dream that by the time my life ends, the very concept of taking a child away from its family and locking it away will seem to belong to a cruel, fictional world.”
Wednesday’s conference is aligned with the launch of Lumos’s new online social media campaign, #LetsTalkLumos, “aimed at raising awareness of the plight of up to eight million children globally who are living in orphanages and institutions, despite over 80% having living parents.” According to the charity’s website, “the campaign will also raise funds for a special education unit in a mainstream school in Moldova, to demonstrate that children with complex disabilities can be educated alongside their peers without disabilities.”
To donate to Lumos’s fund, click here. If you are not in the position to donate, please still spread the word about the campaign. Visit the charity’s website to find out more about their new efforts to combat the institutionalization of children.
Be part of one of the best birthday presents J.K. Rowling has received by donating to the Light Up Jo’s Birthday fundraiser for Lumos.
Since 2012, the Light Up Jo’s Birthday fundraiser has been bringing together J.K. Rowling fans to make a difference in a cause that is very close to Jo’s heart. Every July, fans donate to the fundraiser, and this money is then donated to J.K. Rowling’s own charity, Lumos, “which aims to end the institutionalization of children around the world.” The fundraiser runs throughout the month of July, as Jo’s (and Harry Potter’s) birthday is July 31.
So far, Light Up Jo’s Birthday has raised £4,500 for Lumos, and their current total at press time is £1,263.58. As always, this (growing) amount will be donated to Lumos as a birthday present to J.K. Rowling, and the author will be notified of the donation amount. This Thursday, Jo will be told in person how much has been raised so far at the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, where she will be appearing as Robert Galbraith.
In the past, J.K. Rowling has called the gift “one of the best birthday presents I’d ever received,” so who wouldn’t want to apart of it?!
In addition, anyone who donates to Light Up Jo’s Birthday will have their name put in a drawing to win one of a wide-range of prizes, including photos signed by Harry Potter actors Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis, and even a one-of-a-kind sketch of Harry by artist Thomas Taylor, who illustrated the cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In addition, anyone who donates £5 or more will be entered to win the grand prize — a rare, signed copy of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling). As there are two signed copies of The Silkworm available, two donators will benefit if they are chosen! Find out more about the prizes here.
Don’t forget, by donating to Light Up Jo’s Birthday, you’re helping a worthy cause that means a great deal to J.K. Rowling. According to their website, “Lumos works in partnership with governments, professionals and carers, communities, families and children, to transform outdated systems that drive families apart.” To find out more about Lumos, visit their website here.
In donating to Light Up Jo’s Birthday, you really are helping Lumos achieve their goal to end the institutionalization of children. The fundraiser’s site reads, “One project carried out by Lumos which benefited from Light Up Jo’s Birthday funds was making a school accessible, so that disabled children can attend mainstream school and stay with their families instead of having to go into an institution.” This birthday campaign is the best way to give back something meaningful to our favorite author, so we ask our readers to donate to the fundraiser if they are able.
Earlier today, across the pond, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling sat down with BBC 4 Radio’s Jane Garvey as the first Guest Editor for the Women’s Hour Takeover program to discuss topics that are very important in her daily life.
Rowling began with story of her mother, Anne Rowling, who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 35. MS affects roughly 100,000 people in the UK, with Scotland having the highest instance in the world, and women three times as more likely to develop the disease as men. She recounts that having a chronic illness in the family does change the dynamic, but remembers her mother fondly as she was at her happiest and also expresses some regret that her mother never knew about the world of Harry Potter before she passed away. “My mother was a passionate reader,” Rowling lovingly tells. “She would have been excited whatever I did, if I succeeded at anything, but particularly to be a writer—she would have considered to be a very valuable thing.” In Anne’s memory, Rowling has worked with the University of Edinburgh to found the Anne Rowling Clinic, which hosts research and continues to make great strides in the field of neural regeneration.
Next, Rowling raves about her love for the Scottish rugby team. Apparently wizards all over support this sport, as was evident during the 2014 Six Nations Rugby Championships when Rowling tweeted, “Wizards worldwide support the Scottish rugby team. It’s an old, magical tradition.” Women’s and girl’s rugby teams are growing each day in Scotland, and have found great acceptance with the already-present men’s teams.
Moving back into a more serious topic, Rowling begins to discuss the disturbing situation of European children living in care institutions. The shocking fact is that 4 out of 5 of these children actually have one or both living parents, but the parents are unable to support and care for them. Many of the children in these institutions have mental disabilities and are not given the needed care for their conditions. Rowling, on the verge of tears, recalls a time that she visited one of these institutions and three children with cerebral palsy were resorted to lying on a bed, side-by-side, instead of being given proper treatment. Knowing firsthand about the harsh conditions and lives that these children face, Rowling founded her charity ‘Lumos’ to work with the government to help remove these children from derelict situations and place them back into loving and healthy care. She said, “I want to use my power for good, not for evil…You can change lives just by writing a letter, so I would encourage people to get involved and do what they can.” More about ‘Lumos’ can be found here.
Lastly, Rowling talks about her love for shoes! She has always been fascinated by the roles shoes play in various stories and fairytales, and what they represent to the readers. Many times, men’s shoes will represent power, strength, and brute force, while women’s shoes will represent delicateness and coming into womanhood. Rowling believes that women, in particular, love shoes so much because they have different shoes for different reasons, and each pair holds a bit of their personality.
To sum up her chat with advice she wishes someone would have told her in her earlier years, Rowling powerfully states, “It’s impossible to live without failing unless you live so cautiously that you never do anything, in which case you fail by default…Be who you are.”
Last month, we shared with you that J.K. Rowling would be putting up a unique piece of jewelry for a Sotheby’s auction this week. Ahead of the auction, J.K. Rowling has published an op-ed about “the healing powers of jewelry” in this month’s edition of Harper’s Bazaar UK.
In the op-ed, the bestselling author shares the story of three charm bracelets that have been of importance in her life.
The first, is a “heavy silver chain with a heart-shaped clasp,” which was “crammed with clinking charms including a wishing-well charm, a fat Spanish donkey,” and, the author’s favorite, “a filigree egg that opened to reveal a tiny bird.” When she was five, she was playing with it, when one of her great-aunts said to her, “Ah, but no really nice woman likes jewellery.” This statement, Rowling says, influenced how she now views jewelry. The author says she had the bracelet for 20 years, until it was stolen to her in a burglary of her Manchester apartment. After all this time, though, she still hopes for the sight of a filigree egg in old jewelry shop windows.
The second bracelet the author shares is one given to her by her British editor and the head of Bloomsbury books, the day the final Harry Potter book was released. It is covered in gold and silver charms from the books, including a Golden Snitch, a silver Ford Anglia, a Pensieve, a stag Patronus, and a garnet of the Philosopher’s Stone, and the author names it as her second most treasured piece of jewelry (besides from her wedding ring).
Unfortunately, sometime during the eight hour marathon book signing of the seventh book, the Philosopher’s Stone broke, something Rowling saw as a sign: “The series was finished and it was time to move on,” she writes.
In 2004, after reading a Sunday Times article about the reality of children living in institutions in the Czech Republic, Rowling was prompted to start a charity to save these children. Called Lumos, the charity helps to put an end to institutionalization by “transforming how governments and communities think about looking after vulnerable children.”
Since 2005, Lumos has helped governments take more than 7,000 children out of institutions, preventing the deaths of “more than 200 extremely vulnerable children with disabilities who were not receiving the care they needed in those institutions.”
In 2008, Rowling published The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a short book of wizard fairy tales featured in the Harry Potter books, and all proceeds of which went to Lumos. The author is now preparing for another fundraising drive, and as part, she is auctioning off a unique piece of custom-made jewelry.
A symbol of beauty in a reality so dark, the third and final piece of jewelry Rowling shares, is one she designed herself. She sketched the ideas based on the one given to her by Bloomsbury, and then sent it to the Scottish jeweler Hamilton & Inches.
The bracelet can be seen above, including its eleven, handmade charms that are symbols in the Harry Potter books. The charms include a winged key, a tiny spell book and (for Harry) a bolt of lightning. “The most precious charm of the lot,” according to Rowling, “is a little jewelled butterfly, which is the logo of Lumos – a symbol of transformation and liberation, of the beauty that can emerge from dark confinement.”
The bracelet will be going up for auction at Sotheby’s on December 10, at their sale of “English literature, history, children’s books and illustrations,” and is expected to be sold for more than 20,000 pounds. We’ll update this when it has been sold, so stick with us for the latest.
On Saturday evening, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (in a very luminous and symbolic gold dress) and husband Dr. Neil Murray hosted a fundraising event for her charity, Lumos, at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Watford, where the Harry Potter series was filmed.
At this magical place, Rowling excitedly revealed that she plans to go global with her Lumos charity. Shining along with Rowling and Murray at the Lumos event were Harry Potter film veterans Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis, and Evanna Lynch. Fellow English actor Hugh Grant also showed his support and was immediately targeted for recruitment by a group of Death Eaters that snaked their way onto the red carpet. Don’t do it, Hugh!
The attendees were treated to a lovely banquet in the beautifully decorated Hogwarts’ Great Hall, a part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. An auction was held to raise funds for Lumos, and some items up for bidding included a drawing of the Sorting Hat by J.K. Rowling and a sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor. All donations raised from this event will go directly toward Lumos, which helps European children who have been placed in decrepit orphanages. Rowling stated that since Lumos’ beginnings in 2005, it has successfully helped governments take almost 12,000 children out of these appalling institutions, across the world. “We have prevented the deaths of more than 400 vulnerable children with disabilities who were not receiving the care they needed in institutions,” she said. Lumos has also helped the European Union (EU) on the allocation of money to reform education, social, and health services and care systems.
In addition to the auction funds received, Rowling has gifted £25 million (over $33 million) of her Harry Potter fortune to Lumos. Every last penny from the £18.9 million (over $25 million) sale of Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard went directly to the charity. Anonymous private donors, believed to be Rowling herself, have contributed £5.4 million (over $7 million), as well.
J.K. Rowling will also be putting her “Lumos Maxima” bracelet up for bid at an auction being held at Sotheby’s in London on December 10. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the author revealed the bracelet was a gift from Rowling’s British editor, given to her the day the seventh Harry Potter book was released. The bracelet commemorates Harry Potter, featuring trinkets including a winged key, a spell book, and a bolt of lightning, and is expected to raise another £20,000 (over $26K) for Lumos. Lumos spokeswoman Vicky Gillings declared, of Rowling, “The power of one person to change things is incredible.”
Rowling admitted that there is much more needed to be done to significantly decrease the suffering of displaced European children, but that the Warner Bros. Studio event was a very large step in helping to achieve Lumos’ mission and goals.
Tell us below: What would you like to do to help Rowling with her Lumos efforts?
Images courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk and Getty Images
It is undeniable that J.K. Rowling has an immensely powerful, global voice. With about 450 million Harry Potter books sold in 67 different languages, Rowling has established herself not only as a brilliant author, but also as someone who truly understands the human condition and yearns to do as much as she can to ensure that those in need are able to have the best lives possible.
‘Suddenly you think, “I can give and I can do something for [charities],”‘ she declared. She is, in fact, taking this advocacy and desire to effect change to the next level: In a telling interview with Geordie Greig of Event Magazine, J.K. Rowling announced plans to re-launch her charity Lumos in Britain.
Lumos is a charity that works “to support the 8 million children in institutions worldwide to regain their right to a family life and to end the institutionalization of children.” Rowling started the charity seven years ago, naming if after the light-producing spell in her Harry Potter books. In a few weeks time, she will take the stage at Warner Bros. in Hertfordshire to kick off newly energized rallying.
Harry Potter’s own personal struggle of being orphaned and placed into the neglectful and bullying Dursley family serves as a direct inspiration for Lumos. Rowling recounted, ‘Harry has been left in a very hostile environment, so there are clear parallels [with Lumos]. He is a boy removed from his family by bereavement.’ The mission of what Rowling’s charity strives to achieve also mirrors Harry’s welcoming of Teddy Lupin into his family after Teddy, too, was orphaned. It is strongly believed by many Potterfans that Teddy’s fate reflected a reprieve for the childhood of which Harry was deprived, and who better to show Teddy that he was, in fact, loved and cherished, than Harry himself!
Thus far, Rowling has donated millions of pounds to establish Lumos to liberate children from deplorable conditions, horrific caged beds, and prison-like “orphanages” so they may return to their families, and she hopes that, like the Harry Potter series, this mission will have the same impact in terms of global reach.
Since its beginning, Lumos has effectively cut the number of children living in care institutions in Moldova by 63 percent, as well as helped to close approximately one third of all workhouse institutions. All in all, over 7,000 children have been helped by Lumos’ efforts, and the charity now turns to Britain to help kids in need.
A mere twenty years ago, Rowling struggled as a single mother, sometimes forgoing food to make sure that her daughter, Jessica, got enough to eat. It is still difficult for her to talk about this time in her life, and to revisit the small flat that she and Jessica once called “home.” Said Rowling, ‘I was as poor as it’s possible to be… Now I am able to give… My situation has given me a lot of fuel for my passion in this area.’
After reading about the interview on Daily Mail, Luna Lovegood’s portrayer Evanna Lynch tweeted, ‘It only takes a little dose of JKR to remind me of what life’s about and why we’re here. Best human on the planet.’
It is clear that J.K. Rowling will continue on this awesome journey to offer her own personal brand of magic to children and families in need in Europe, and we genuinely look forward to the re-launch of this wonderful charity, Lumos!
Images courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk
The Pottermore Shop was updated this past week with a new product and a page for all Harry Potter merchandise.
Firstly, The Tales of Beedle the Bard has been added to the Shop’s e-book collection and is available to purchase. As you may recall, The Tales of Beedle the Bard was written by J.K. Rowling for her charity Lumos, and was first published in 2008. The book marks the third in the Hogwarts Library Set to be available through the Shop (as e-books). You can find out more about the book on the Pottermore Shop website.
UPDATE: J.K. Rowling has filmed a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to encourage people to buy the e-book of Tales of Beedle the Bard to help support Lumos, Rowling’s charity foundation that works to transform the lives of disadvantage children. Please take the time to watch the video here.
Additionally, Pottermore has added a new page to the site called “All Sorts of Things“. Meant to be a hub for all Harry Potter products, the page features merchandise from two of Pottermore’s partners, Warner Bros. and Sony. Right now, the new Harry Potter Shop by Warner Bros. is being featured. The Harry Potter Shop is also home to Harry Potter merchandise. Ads for the newly-released Wonderbook: Book of Spells are also being run on the Pottermore Shop site.
Interestingly, Sony has also updated their Pottermore page with information on their tablets and readers in relation to Pottermore. It’s very cool and we recommend you check it out.
All these updates could be seen as signs that Pottermore is planning to soon branch out onto other platforms, including mobile apps, enhanced e-books, and more. Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne has said multiple times in the past that it is their plan to make the experience available on multiple platforms. He has said he wants the Pottermore Shop to be a hub for all Harry Potter products. These could be the first signs of some major expansions.
In the mean time, take a visit to the Pottermore Shop.