To celebrate the release of the final trailer of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Warner Bros. invited us to attend a very special performance of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Parts 1 and 2 on Sunday, September 23.
Attendees were in for a real treat when the writer and creator of Harry Potter herself J.K. Rowling appeared on stage to introduce the performance, which benefitted her foundation Lumos. She was greeted with loud applause and a standing ovation. “I was supposed to welcome you, you weren’t supposed to welcome me,” she joked.
“This is a very special gala performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And I just wanted to say a few words about Lumos before we start and I also wanted to say a few words about the play you’re about to see. As … I suspect nearly all of you will know, Lumos is the light giving spell in Harry Potter and you will hear wizards and witches performing that very spell in a few moments. I’m going to come back to the reason that we named the charity I founded Lumos. Because firstly, I do want to talk about Cursed Child. This is a story about a family, about an imperfect family because of course all families everywhere are imperfect because humans are imperfect creatures. There are no good people who don’t acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes because no good person exists who hasn’t made a mistake. Harry Potter saved the wizarding world. And he lived. And then he had to face fatherhood. Well, you’ll see how he fared in a moment. The important thing to say is that Harry, with the best intentions, made mistakes and those mistakes have big consequences as you will see,” Rowling began.
Rowling founded Lumos 13 years ago after she saw a picture in a newspaper of a small boy in the Czech Republic who was being kept in a cage bed in an institution for 23 out of 24 hours each day. He only had human contact when his diaper was changed, according to the article. “The next day I began writing letters to anyone who I thought could help that child. I got put in touch with leaders in the field of deinstitutionalization and that lead to the founding of Lumos. And now I’d just like to give you some facts that may shock you as much as they shocked me when I first learned them,” she continued.
Some of the stats she shared included:
- There are an estimated eight million children in institutions around the globe.
- Around 80 percent of those children are not orphans. Though these institutions are often referred to as orphanages, 80 percent of children in those so called orphanages have at least one living parent. Then why are they in an institution? Poverty, sometimes disability, and natural disasters.
- 80 years of research shows that institutions cause terrible harm to children. The U.S. and the U.K. stopped the use of orphanages years ago because they cause developmental delays, physical stunting, and psychological trauma. One in five children who grows up in an institution will have a criminal record. One in seven will be involved in prostitution and one in ten will kill themselves.
Despite our good intentions, Western countries are enabling child institutions to remain open and in some instances expand all over the globe. Some of us are donating money to them and others are volunteering in them. Rowling further pointed to another child trafficking scheme in which “families are coerced into giving up their children, usually with the promise of medical care or education that they can’t provide them, sometimes even with the promise of feeding them. That’s the kind of poverty we’re talking about. They’re coerced into giving up their children, into orphanages that have been set up as businesses to attract foreign money.”
“So, the name Lumos has a two-fold meaning when it comes to my charity. Firstly, we’re seeking to shed light on a vast, but often hidden, problem. And secondly, we want to bring those children back into the light. We are now working closely with governments across the world to build community services that will keep children where they belong, in families. Now, that’s obviously a complex business. We rely on the network of professionals to help us achieve our goals. I am very proud to say that we have so far managed to save 50,000 children from institutions,” she shared.
Rowling is even prouder that Lumos is now being invited into many countries by governments to help them deinstitutionalize and to set up support systems that will keep families together. She personally covers all administrative and operational costs, so every penny donors give to Lumos go directly to their programs that help children. Additionally, the Czech Republic has now banned the use of cage beds and the little boy who was in that picture is now living outside an institution.
Rowling concluded, “At Lumos we believe we can end child institutionalization globally by 2050. It will take the will, it will take a lot of work, there is no simple, magical, solution. But we have proven in country after country that this can be achieved. So, I want to ask for your help, in righting a terrible man-made wrong. We have made mistakes here. If you donate to us, you will help some of the most vulnerable children in the world. But you can also help, and I’m speaking now particularly to young people in this audience, you can help by changing hearts and minds. Don’t donate to orphanages. Don’t volunteer in orphanages. Carry that message to your friends. We need to support community services that keep families together.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters November 16, 2018.