Skip to page content

JK Rowling: Isn’t it time we left orphanages to fairytales?


JK Rowling: Isn’t it time we left orphanages to fairytales?

In December 2014, Lumos Founder and President J.K. Rowling wrote about why she founded Lumos, and how the investments of major donors and international aid in community services can ensure that we end institutional care for good.

"It was a black-and-white photograph in a newspaper. It showed a small boy, locked in a caged bed in a residential institution. His hands clutched what appeared to be chicken wire containing him, and his expression was agonised. There would be no Lumos – the charity dedicated to closing child institutions and so-called orphanages – if there hadn’t first been this picture. I knew the immediate shameful impulse to turn away, to hide the page, not to look.

I could try to justify that impulse by saying that I was pregnant at the time, feeling vulnerable and hormonal. The sad truth remains that my instinctive reaction to that picture could stand as a metaphor for the attitude that has enabled the unjustifiable incarceration of 8 million children around this world to take place with little outrage or comment. Ashamed of that reflexive refusal to look, I forced myself to turn back to the picture and read the article.

It told of a nightmarish institution where children as young as six were caged most of the day and night. I ripped the article out, and the following day I began writing letters to everybody I could think of with influence in the matter.

These efforts led quickly to the establishment of Lumos, named for the spell I created in Harry Potter to bring light to some dark and frightening places. Part of our work in Lumos is to shed light on the lives of those millions of children separated from their families for reasons of poverty, disability and discrimination."

To read the article on the Guardian website, click here