SEATTLE – Although Princess Diana’s tragic death may have faded into the background of public memory it still looms large over those who were closest to her, especially her children Prince William and Prince Harry.
At a recent opening of the Mamohato Children’s Centre in Lesotho, Diana’s second son Prince Harry (officially Prince Henry of Wales KCVO) said that on his first visit to the country in 2004, his mother’s death helped him relate to the children of Lesotho, a small African country that has been ravaged by poverty and HIV/AIDS.
“We shared a similar feeling of loss, having a loved one, in my case, a parent, snatched away so suddenly,” he said. “I, like them, knew there would always be a gaping hole that could never be filled.”
Two years later, in 2006, Prince Harry created Sentebale, a charity dedicated to helping AIDS/HIV victims and orphans. Sentebale is located in Lesotho, a small African country enveloped by South Africa.
According to the development agency, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), Lesotho is one of the poorest nations on earth. About 50 percent of its people, known as Basotho, live on less than $1.25 a day. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) listed Lesotho’s poverty rate at 57.1 percent in 2014.
Lesotho is wracked by AIDS/HIV. According Sentebale, one out of every three children in Lesotho are orphans. Basotho have an average life expectancy of only 48.7 years, and the country has the second highest rate of HIV in the world.
Last November, Prince Harry opened the Mamohato Children’s Centre. To honor Princess Diana, who was known for her charitable work, Prince Harry named the center’s dining hall, the “Diana, Princess of Wales Hall.” He also dedicated a plaque at Mamohato’s Welcome Centre to his late nanny, Olga Powell.
As the 31-year-old prince continued his speech, he elaborated on the charity’s success. More than 5,000 orphans have received care from Sentebale. In 2015 alone, more than 13,000 adults and children were tested for HIV in 2015. In total, Prince Harry said his charity has provided 250,000 hours of psychosocial support to orphans.
Still, there is much work be done. With the opening of the Mamohato Children’s Centre, Prince Harry said Sentebale will be able to reach many more children who require HIV medication, but lack access. Sentebale will also be able to triple its camp intake from 400 to 1,500 children per year.
Prince Harry has high expectations for the center. He said he hopes “the Mamohato Children’s Centre will become a center of excellence for the region; allowing us to share this valuable local knowledge and experience with partners in other countries.”
Indeed, Southern Africa needs help. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 220,000 children were affected with HIV in 2014, and most were in sub-Saharan Africa.
Prince Harry ended his speech by honoring the people who strive to make a difference. “Finally to our partners and team on the ground, thank you, please keep doing what you do, where ever you are, as your work really does change lives.”