J.K. Rowling: Don't Give Your Time or Money to Orphanages

J.K. Rowling - Time

This article from Time presents a lightly edited transcript of remarks by J.K. Rowling at the One Young World global forum in London on Oct. 24 regarding orphanage voluntourism. "The author was speaking at the launch of #HelpingNotHelping, a campaign led by her children’s charity Lumos intended to educate young people about the potential harms of orphanage tourism and volunteering," says the article. 

At the event, Rowling spoke about the negative impacts of institutionalization on children, why Western countries have largely done away with orphanages, and why they persist in other areas around the globe, including issues related to poverty, natural disasters, and lack of access to healthcare and education. "But another key pillar propping up the orphanage business—and I have to call it that—is people volunteering and visiting orphanages," said Rowling. "They’ve brought foreign money into the country and we do know that some orphanages are set up literally to exploit children. The children are the bait for foreign donations and a volunteer experience, and the money is going into the pockets of the people running the orphanages."

"However, we do have some hope," said Rowling, noting the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office's update to its travel advice encouraging people not to volunteer at or visit orphanages. Rowling concluded her remarks with some suggestions on what to do next, including asking businesses to amend their social responsibility policies.