I know everyone’s got Pottermania at the moment. (Shout out to all you Quidditch World Cuppers and bleary-eyed midnight moviegoers!) It’s a bittersweet time as fans prepare to leave Hogwarts behind for good, but one devotee of the beloved book and film series has decided to keep Harry’s memory alive by forming a real-life Dumbledore’s Army dedicated to wiping out hunger and disease around the world. Voldemort who?
Inspired by the D.A.’s efforts to save the wizarding world from evil, Potterphile Andrew Slack started The Harry Potter Allliance five years ago to mobilize fellow fans around social justice issues. As Slack explains on the HPA Web site, “I thought we needed an organization to act as a Dumbledore’s Army for our world, full of Harry Potter fans wishing to embody the message of the books to create social change.”
So far, it’s worked: The HPA now has 100,000 members in 60 chapters around the world. No, they aren’t screaming “Accio World Peace!” in tandem, but they work with NGOs worldwide to do real things for real people who need their help. They’ve donated more than 50,000 books to communities around the world, raised money to help people in Burma and Darfur, and raised more than $120,000 in two weeks to help Partners in Health send cargo planes to Haiti after the January earthquake. And that’s the short list.
The HPA’s current project is its most interesting – and most high-profile – to date. The Deathly Hallows Campaign spans the nine months separating each part of the final Harry Potter film and parallels Harry’s quest to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes. During that same period, the HPA will launch a series of campaigns dedicated to eradicating several global scourges. The first will attack the Horcrux of starvation wages. How? By reminding the film’s parent company of Hermione Granger’s quest for house elf equality, of course! The HPA, in a petition requesting that all Harry Potter candy be made from Fair Trade chocolate, noted that “the cocoa industry is plagued by inhumane and unjust economic and labor conditions. Therefore, by switching to Fair Trade chocolate, Time Warner can ensure that no chocolate in Harry’s name is being made under inhumane conditions (including starvation and child slavery).” The campaign will last until “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” premieres next July.
The HPA is tackling some pretty big issues, but the good news is that they know what’s possible. If a skinny kid with glasses can take on the biggest evil in the wizarding world and win (twice!), then they know they’ve got a pretty good shot at saving their own.