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j.k. rowling calls for an end to orphanage tourism at one young world

J.K. Rowling launched #HelpingNotHelping at One Young World yesterday – a new campaign led by her children’s charity, Lumos, to challenge attitudes towards orphanage tourism and volunteering.

Speaking at the global forum for young leaders, J.K. Rowling, delivered a powerful call to action to end orphanage tourism and volunteering, which can drive family separation and child trafficking – highlighting that orphanages are a harmful and outdated system of ‘care’ for children:

“Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse. We want this campaign to highlight the extent of the harm that orphanages cause and to put an end to orphanage tourism and volunteering for good.

My message to young people today is yes volunteer – but plan carefully and thoughtfully. Your time and energy are precious: use them wisely and they will help change the world.  Do not volunteer in orphanages. Instead, look at what drives children into institutions and dedicate your time to projects that tackle poverty or support communities with vital services.”

J.K. Rowling was joined on stage by two One Young World Ambassadors and self-advocates, Ruth Wacuka from Kenya and Eluxon Tassy, from Haiti. As care leavers, Ruth and Eluxon shared their experiences of growing up in orphanages and called for change in the way vulnerable children are cared for around the world.

Also participating in the discussion were broadcaster and Paralympian Ade Adepitan and Deputy CEO of Lumos, Alex Christopoulos.

#HelpingNotHelping aims to dispel the myth that orphanages are helping children and stop them from being tourist destinations. The campaign wants to help young people make smarter volunteering and travel choices that support, rather than divide families. Vast numbers of volunteers, tourists and backpackers visit residential children’s institutions every year, creating a multi-million-dollar tourism industry that leaves children at risk of all forms of abuse and drives ‘orphanage trafficking’.

Launched at One Young World, the #HelpingNotHelping campaign will be delivered by Lumos, the NGO working to end the institutionalisation of children worldwide. The campaign is supported by a short film with a powerful message – don’t just think you are helping, know you are.

Please visit to see the campaign film and for more information.

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