A speech by Prince Harry at the Sentebale Gala Dinner, Johannesburg

Published 27 February 2013

Their resilience is astounding and makes me feel extremely humble.

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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