J.K. Rowling is urging all 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 appeared on Facebook Live on Saturday to discuss her charity Lumos, and spoke with broadcaster Lauren Laverne about the charity’s new We Are Lumos Worldwide campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the 8 million children throughout the world living in orphanages.
“We want to help children and that is an honourable and magnificent thing,” said Rowling of the desire to donate to an orphanage. “However, what you may be doing is contributing towards real harm.”
As Rowling explained, research has indicated that a child can experience devastating long-term effects from growing up in an orphanage, and Rowling believes that efforts should be shifted to raise money to help impoverished families.
“Poverty is absolutely the number one driver into institutions,” noted Rowling. “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.”
In fact, Rowling added that even 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 intensions – be propping up a system that is harming children,” the author explained.
Of course, Rowling also opened up about her various “Potter”-related projects. “2016 is very wizardy,” she remarked. “I stepped away, as completely as I can ever step away from ‘Harry Potter,’ I really stepped away for about six or seven years and I wrote ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ and I wrote the first [Robert] Galbraith, and I wrote some other things that will probably see the light of day at some point, and I had a real break. But, at the back of my mind, I always knew we would probably do ‘Fantastic Beasts.’ ‘Harry Potter’ has a kind of gravitational pull of its own, because the fan base is so enthusiastic still and so engaged.”
Added Rowling: “I don’t think I’ll ever be entirely separate from ‘Harry Potter,’ nor would I want to be, I have to say.”