Taking a page from his mom’s charitable handbook, Prince Harry made his first public appearance since completing his tour of military duty in Afghanistan on Wednesday by visiting schoolchildren in the poverty-stricken African country of Lesotho.
The 28-year-old was there launching his charity, Sentebale, through which he hopes to raise millions of dollars to build a new clinic, the Mamohato Centre, to provide services to children living with HIV/AIDS.
After leaving Lesotho, Harry spoke about his trip at a gala dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the prince said that he hoped his mother, the late Princess Diana, would be proud of him. Harry launched Sentebale in 2006 in conjunction with his friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, who himself lost his mother, the late Queen Mamohato Bereng Seeiso. In Sesotho, Lesotho’s language, Sentebale means “forget me not.”
"I hope that my mother will be proud, too,” Prince Harry said at the gala. “Maybe, just maybe, they are together somewhere up there, with blueprints and sketches already mapped out. I can only hope we put the swings in the right place.”
During his time in Lesotho, Harry met with young people at separate clinics for both deaf and blind children. At the Kanenelo Centre for the Deaf, he practiced sign language, wrote on blackboards, and took part in a dance. He even joined Prince Seeiso for a cooking class, donning a Paddington Bear apron, as the two jokingly teased each other. Later, at St. Bernadette’s Resource Centre for the Blind, he joined kids for a game of football.
The trip marked Harry’s second trip to Lesotho, the country landlocked by South Africa, following a trip with his brother, William, in June 2010. Half of Lesotho’s population of 1.8 million are under 18, and of those 40% are classified as vulnerable or orphans. The country has the third-highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. Most of the population is only reachable by foot or on horseback.
"Talking about HIV and understanding it isn't dangerous," Harry said at the Johannesburg dinner. "Denying it, or not knowing about it, definitely is. Our aim and hope is that we can influence a decline in the transmission of HIV and increase life expectancy, in a unique way for Lesotho: by addressing the psychological and social needs of the next generation, which is so important.”
(Information in this report was taken from reporting by ABC News, Sky News, and People)
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