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Prince Harry: 'I hope my mother will be proud'

28 FEBRUARY 2013

Prince Harry has said he hopes his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, is proud of him. Harry, 28, made the comment at a gala dinner in Johannesburg, which was held to raise funds for his children's charity Sentebale.

In his speech, the young royal spoke about the work of Sentebale – the charity he co-founded in the southern African country of Lesotho in 2006 while in the region on his gap year – and its plans to build the Mamohato Centre, named after Lesotho's former head of state Queen Mamohato.

"I hope she would be proud of what we are trying to achieve in her name," he said, adding: "I hope that my mother will be proud, too. Maybe, just maybe, they are together somewhere up there, with blue prints and sketches already mapped out. I can only hope we put the swings in the right place."

 

Prince Harry

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Having spent several days in Lesotho while on a five-week break from his military service in Afghanistan, Harry spent time at the Kananelo Centre for the Deaf and met with children at the school.

"Their resilience is astounding and makes me feel extremely humble. It makes me more determined than ever that these wonderful, awe-inspiring children should have happier and healthier lives."

Harry's work in Africa has been inspired by his mother's own efforts. Until her death in 1997, Princess Diana worked with AIDS patients across the continent and also famously visited an Angolan minefield.

 



Harry and Queen Mamohato's son Prince Seeiso set up Sentebale in memory of their mothers. Since then, the foundation has provided has provided 70 per cent of the Kananelo Centre's funding and continues to help Lesotho's most vulnerable people.

"With the new Mamohato Camp we will be able to reach four times as many children each year," continued Harry. "It will also be the centre for training new staff and volunteers for our expansion in southern Africa."

Harry and Prince Seeiso enjoy a good friendship and were full of humour during Harry's visit. Earlier in the week, the pair had joked with each other as they led a home economics class at the Kananelo Centre, much to the children's delight. Prince Seeiso then made a mock rolling pin attack against the Queen's grandson as they made cakes for the pupils.

Prince Harry was also taught how to use sign language for the words "sister", "mother" and "father" by a young female student who pulled and pushed his fingers. His knowledge was tested further when he was asked to write words on a board as she signed them. When Harry got a word right, Seesio offset the student's cheers by jokingly saying: "You're just guessing."

The popular Princes were welcomed by students bearing a signs that read "We love Prince Harry and Seesio" and after their entertaining cookery lesson, the pair took time to greet the excited youngsters.

 

 

 

Prince Harry's full speech

    It is such a pleasure to be with you this evening to mark the launch of our campaign to build the Mamohato Centre for children and young people affected by HIV in Lesotho.

    Over the past few days I have been in Lesotho visiting Sentebale staff, caregivers, volunteers and, most importantly, meeting and getting to know the children who receive our support. It hugely is inspiring to hear how Sentebale is making such a big difference to these children - so many of whom are orphaned, have disabilities, are HIV-positive or who live the harsh life of the herd-boy.

    It would be understandable for children, who have endured such hardship and trauma in their lives at such a young age, to lose faith and give up. What amazes me is that the opposite is the case. They battle on and make the most of their situation. Their resilience is astounding and makes me feel extremely humble. It makes me more determined than ever that these wonderful, awe-inspiring children should have happier and healthier lives.

    Over the past few years our Mamohato programme has begun the process of transforming the lives of children living with HIV. I have met some of the children who have attended the Mamohato Camps, and they have so much more confidence and knowledge of how to live healthy lives. With the new Mamohato Camp we will be able to reach four times as many children each year. It will also be the centre for training new staff and volunteers for our expansion in southern Africa.

    The programme encourages children to talk to one another, to learn about the disease, and spread word of their learning through a safe support network. Talking about HIV and understanding it isn't dangerous. Denying it, or not knowing about it, definitely is. This boosts confidence and self-reliance, leading to marked and measurable improvement in quality of life.

    As a consequence, we are now seeing many of these children begin to fulfill their ambitions and realise dreams that once seemed completelyimpossible. Ladies and gentlemen, the proof is in the pudding - as you will hear from twelve year old Mikey later this evening.

    Therefore, tonight is an important moment in the story of our charity. Tonight, we launch our plans to build a permanent Mamohato Centre. Through economies of scale and efficiency, the centre will allow us to provide education and expert psycho social care to many more children and young people across Lesotho, and beyond.

    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.

    Ultimately, this will strengthen family structures, instill hope in future generations of Basotho people, and enable them to realise their potential and achieve their ambitions. The impact of this programme has the potential to change society.

    We are immensely grateful to His Majesty King Letsie for donating the stunning piece of land at Thaba Basiu - and I encourage you all to go and see it - where we plan to build the centre. It seems only right that it should be named after His Majesty and Prince Seeiso's mother, Queen Mamohato Bereng Seeiso.

    She was so loved as the Mother of the Nation. I hope she would be proud of what we are trying to achieve in her name. I hope that my mother will be proud, too. Maybe, just maybe, they are together somewhere up there, with blue prints and sketches already mapped out! I can only hope we put the swings in the right place.

    The future of this very small and beautiful country, and its magnificent people, could and should be very bright. We need your support this evening to help make it so. We at Sentebale would be hugely grateful for any contribution, large or small. You, just being here is already step one. I hope you leave this place with a bit more of an idea of what we hope to achieve. We want you to be our partners in Mamahato.

    Please enjoy the rest of the evening, thank you very much.

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