Early last month Harry Potter creator and Fantastic Beasts and Wear to Find Them script wizard J.K. Rowling appeared at an advanced charity screening of the film at Carnegie Hall in NYC.
Prior to the screening, Rowling sat down for an on-stage conversation with the film’s star Eddie Redmayne in which she told the story of how Lumos, the international non-profit organization she established in the Czech Republic in 2008, came to be:
“I pulled out [a] news story – which was all about an institution in the Czech Republic where very young children were being kept in appalling conditions. I went home the next day, Monday, [and] I started to write letters to anyone I could think of – MPs, and MEPs, and the president of the Czech Republic…that led me to connecting with experts in this field, and the creation of Lumos.”
The NGO, named for a spell Harry Potter uses to bring light to dark places, helps return institutionalized children to their families. According to its website, the Czech Republic institutionalizes a higher percentage of children than any other EU member state.
Lumos has since expanded into numerous Eastern European countries and Greece. It is currently supporting Haitian families in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Writing for the Guardian of the project’s success in the Czech Republic in 2014, Rowling said:
“In the Czech Republic, while the numbers of children being admitted into institutions has dropped by 16% nationally in the past year, in Lumos’s demonstration area they have achieved a 75% fall in admissions. It is eminently possible that by 2020 there will be no more children in institutions in the Czech Republic.”
In the interview with Redmayne, Rowling went on to say that the charitable work she started here is “probably the thing of which I am most proud.”
She also encouraged those who make holiday donations this year to do careful research before giving to ensure that funds are going to children and families, not institutions.