Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling says she’ll match up to £1 million in donations to help children in Ukraine as the country struggles to fight off Russia’s invasion.
Rowling said on Twitter
that she’ll chip in up to £1 million, or about $1.3 million, to match donations to Lumos, a nonprofit she helped found that works to keep children worldwide out of orphanages and other institutions.
Rowling was responding to an emergency appeal from Lumos to provide food, hygiene and medical kits to children in orphanages in Ukraine. More than 1,500 children are “trapped in orphanages” in the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine, according to Lumos, and around 100,000 children live in institutions in the country. Ukraine, where Lumos has worked since 2013, has one of the highest rates of child institutionalization in the world; nearly 1.5% of all children in Ukraine “live without family in some form of residential institution,” according to Lumos.
Rowling, who is worth an estimated £820 million (or nearly $1.1 billion), according to the Sunday Times, helped found Lumos in 2004 after seeing a newspaper article about children kept in caged beds in an institution, according to the Lumos website. Lumos works elsewhere in Eastern Europe and has worked to help children at the U.S.-Mexico border and to reform orphanages in Haiti.
An estimated 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Hundreds of thousands of them are children, many of whom may have been either separated from their families or are traveling alone, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
“Children without parental care are at a heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation,” UNHCR officials wrote in a blog post. “When these children are moved across borders, the risks are multiplied. The risk of trafficking also soars in emergencies.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a worldwide outpouring of donations from both individuals and companies. The United Nations is seeking $1.7 billion in donations to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.
Rowling has been criticized for anti-trans comments in recent years. She wrote in 2020 that “trans activism” was “doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”
Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first in a series about a boy wizard that became a major cultural force, was published in 1997 and is one of the bestselling books of all time.