Harry hails 'milestone' opening of Mamohato Children's Centre in Lesotho


Prince Harry has hailed the opening of his charity's landmark centre for vulnerable children in Lesotho as a "milestone".

The £2 million Mamohato Children's Centre will give young people in the impoverished African country the "best care and support available," the prince said.

The new facility will allow Sentebale - the charity founded by Harry and Lesotho's Prince Seeiso - to scale up their work with children struggling to cope with being HIV positive. 

Harry and Seeiso toured the sprawling centre, based outside the capital Maseru, ahead of the official opening by the nation's monarch King Letsie III.

Writing a message in the official launch ceremony programme the two princes said their charity, founded in 2006, not only provided grants to bodies caring for orphans or vulnerable children but also ran multiple programmes across Lesotho helping youngsters with similar needs.

They added: "Sentebale continues to work hard to help the children of Lesotho affected by HIV/Aids; the opening of the Mamohato Children's Centre is a great milestone for the charity and for Lesotho.

"The centre is a place where children can come to access the best care and support available - it is a place of hope and opportunity for a better future."

A major focus of Sentebale's work is trying to care for the large number of young people who have been affected by Lesotho's Aids epidemic but it also provides support for other vulnerable children like the disabled.

Cathy Ferrier, Sentebale's chief executive, painted a desperate picture in which many of Lesotho's younger generation are either Aids orphans or coming to terms with having the disease.

She said: "The statistics are fairly alarming, Lesotho has the second highest HIV infection rates in the world and as a result of the epidemic children have been affected and one in three have been orphaned and that's leaving a lot of children without the parental care they need."

The chief executive said that the biggest barrier to tackling the major problem of HIV was the stigma attached to the issue: "There's an awful lot of fear and discrimination going on and it's not just Lesotho, it's more widespread than that.

"We've found quite often children may be on treatment but nobody's actually explained what the treatment is for and that they are HIV positive."

Sentebale runs Saturday morning network clubs across the country where young HIV sufferers work with counsellors, volunteers and their peers to learn about living with the condition.

It also stages a residential camp that provides a similar service but over five days for those struggling to follow their medication.

The new centre with dining hall, medical block, accommodation for up to 96 youngsters and workshop classrooms, will allow Sentebale to cater for youngsters in a purpose-built environment and increase the number of children who pass through the camp from 400 a year to 1,500.