J.K. Rowling is urging her fans to think twice before donating money or volunteer efforts to an orphanage, warning that a well-intentioned donation could be “contributing towards real harm” for children.
The Harry Potter author made the comments during a Facebook Live interview on Saturday for her charity Lumos — a non-profit organization she founded10 years ago.
The writer of the hit fantasy literature series spoke with broadcaster Lauren Laverne about Lumos and the charity’s new We Are Lumos Worldwide campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the eight million children around the globe who are living in orphanages.
“We want to help children and that is an honourable and magnificent thing,” Rowling said of the desire to donate to an orphanage. “However, what you may be doing is contributing towards real harm.”
Rowling went on to explain that, “all of the research agrees that there’s little you can do worse for a child than put it in an institution,” and that she believes the efforts should be shifted to raise money to help impoverished families.
“Poverty is absolutely the number one driver into institutions,” Rowling said. “The only place I can feed my child is if I give them up to the institution, the only place I can get them medical support — that’s why we have many disabled children in these institutions globally — is if I put them in the institution.”
Rowling also added that volunteering at an orphanage can be contributing to the harm of children.
“I would say to any 18- or 19 year-old who wants to volunteer, go volunteer in a community-based project, do your research, make sure you know what you’re doing, make sure you’re really making a difference, because you could — with the best intentions — be propping up a system that is harming children,” the author explained.
During the live chat, Rowling announced the launch of a new limited-edition T-shirt. Close to 60 per cent of the purchase price will be used to support Lumos programs around the world. The shirts feature a quote from the author’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech: “We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”
Rowling added that she doesn’t think she will be “entirely separate from Harry Potter, nor would I want to be.”
Watch the full Facebook Live video below.