Friday 20th May 2016
The Harry Potter actor meets the Chief Executive of J.K. Rowling’s charity.
Warwick Davis and Georgette ‘George’ Mulheir sit across from one another. They’re at Pottermore HQ to talk about the eight million children currently living in orphanages around the world, and what we can do to help them.
Warwick, of course, played Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films. George is the CEO of Lumos, the non-profit organization J.K. Rowling founded in 2005 and named after the light-giving spell from the Harry Potter books.
‘Now, tell me, why does Lumos exist? How did it all start?’ Warwick asks.
‘In 2004, J.K. Rowling saw a picture on the front of the Sunday Times newspaper that I think changed her life forever and certainly changed the lives of millions of children,’ George says.
‘It was a picture of a young boy in a caged bed in an institution in the Czech Republic and I think she was so shocked to see that in this modern day, there are still children living in these horrific institutions in Europe. So she decided she had to do something about it and within a year, Lumos had been born.’ George perhaps knows that the stories she tells today will have a similar effect on the people in this very room.
In the 11 years since, George and her team have been working to get children like that boy out of orphanages. In fact, their aim is to get all children out of institutions by 2050.
And that work might sound counterintuitive, if you assume that an orphanage is a safe, loving place for children to go when they’ve lost their parents. But that’s simply not the case. An estimated 80 percent of the children in orphanages around the world have at least one living parent, who has been forced, by adversity, into an impossible decision.
‘I’ve seen parents where literally their choice is allowing their children to starve or taking them to an orphanage,’ George says. ‘Our experience has been that most parents want their children and love their children but feel they have no choice but to give them up.’
Conditions vary from orphanage to orphanage, but only truly from awful to horrific. Many are overcrowded and under-staffed. In countries like Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, George says, they might house as many as 600 children, none of whom are cared for properly.
Some are smaller and better funded, but George points out that outcomes for the children living in these kind of orphanages are often as bad, and damaging to their health and life chances of the children living there. It’s a harrowing reality.
‘There are many huge problems that need to be solved in the world. The great thing with this one is that it can be. By 2050, we’re absolutely confident that there will be no children in orphanages anywhere around the world and we will have forgotten – actually forgotten – that we used to do this to children,’ she says.
You can watch Warwick’s interview with Georgette Mulheir here:
Thanks to the generous support of J.K. Rowling and others, 100% of the money you give to Lumos will go directly to Lumos’ projects and not to overhead administration costs.
All profits from sales of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling go to Lumos. To buy your copy, visit the Pottermore Shop.