By Elizabeth Willoughby on
British Prince Harry, second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, has partnered with Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso, second son of the late King Letsie III and Queen Mamohato. Together they have created the Sentebale charity to help the most vulnerable orphans in the southern African country. The name means “forget-me-not” in Lesotho, which the Princes found appropriate in every way: forget not the victims of poverty, not the orphans, and not the mothers.
Prince Harry – who claims both Princes’ mothers have been an enormous influence in this endeavor – says, “It’s a way that both me and Prince Seeiso can relate to our mothers, who were both in sort of the same jobs working with orphaned children. Both our mothers were hugely connected with AIDS, especially the orphaned children from that itself. I wanted to carry on as best I could what she started and what better place than to do it than here? I’m sure she knew this place.”
Launched in 2006, Sentebale aims to improve the lives of Lesotho’s needy through grass roots organizations that lack recognition yet can fill the gaps that larger organizations are missing. Support comes in the form of management, infrastructure, entrepreneurial projects and liaising with international grant-makers, NGOs, local service providers and government.
Harry said, “As we traveled round Lesotho we saw the same thing [repeatedly]: great work being done in the community by amazing volunteers who weren’t able to attract support because they didn’t have professional managers or accountants to show where the money was going.”
Some of their completed projects include the building of a child counsel centre, a kitchen in a home for teenage mothers, a computerized Braille machine for blind teenagers, and crop sharing efforts. In a land where children can get raped because traditional healers preach that sex with an innocent girl can cure AIDS, the Princes are looking for ways to increase their impact on the lives of these children.
“Support is desperately needed in Lesotho,” said the Prince. “The statistics tell their own story. There are a minimum of 120,000 orphans and possibly a maximum of 200,000. The life expectancy is 37 years and falling, and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS is at least 30 per cent of the 1.8 million population and it seems to be climbing.”
Around 70 people die in Lesotho from AIDS every day.
Copyright © 2008 Look to the Stars