Prince Harry Reunited with African Orphan Friend at Charity Center Honoring Princess Diana: 'We Shared a Similar Feeling of Loss'
Harry was at the opening of a children's center run by his African charity, which has named a hall for his mother, Diana
With a huge hug, Prince Harry was reunited with a special friend on Thursday as he spent Thanksgiving carrying out a mission close to his heart.
Harry, 31, met with orphan Mutsu Potsane at the opening of a children’s center in the African country of Lesotho helping orphans and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Lesotho has the world’s second-highest HIV prevalence – more than 23 percent of its population is living with HIV.
Mutsu, who was orphaned after his parents died of AIDS, first met Harry at the age of 4 in 2004 when the royal toured Lesotho and became inspired to set up the charity. The two became close, and Mutsu, now 15, was later pictured with Harry as he helped plant a peach tree.
Shortly after catching up with his old friend, the prince stood with his arm around Mutsu as they chatted with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, who along with Harry helped conceive the charity, Sentebale, to help vulnerable kids in the country.
In anticipation of the reunion, Harry’s office at Kensington Palace released a letter Mutsu wrote to him last year, updating the prince on the milestones of his life. Mutsu told Harry about his exams and fondly recalled the planting of the peach tree. “I feel very happily when I dream I remember about you because you have being with me from my childhood and you have bought me the blue gumboots,” Mutsu’s letter read.
In a speech made at the center, Harry said that while he had lived a vastly different life from Mutsu and other orphans in Lesotho, “nonetheless, we shared a similar feeling of loss, having a loved one, in my case a parent, snatched away so suddenly. I, like them, knew there would always be a gaping hole that could never be filled.”
The $3 million Mamohato Children’s Centre pays tribute to Harry’s late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, and his late nanny Olga Powell.
The facility’s beautiful dining hall, which commands views over the Thaba Bosiu plateau in the heart of Lesotho, is named the Diana, Princess of Wales Hall. On one wall, there is a mural depicting a tree with leaves bearing the names of donors. Included among these donors are Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish and their children, Elijah and Zachary, as well as Harry’s friends, Tom Inskip and Adam Bidwell.
“That that was devastating to him.”
The Welcome Room, the entrance to the center, was named for Powell, who passed away in 2012. The nanny was especially close to Harry and his older brother, Prince William, and both attended her funeral in October 2012. At Powell’s funeral, guests were asked to contribute to Sentebale because Powell knew how much the cause meant to Prince Harry, according to Sentebale chief executive Cathy Ferrier.
Harry fell in love with Lesotho while on a gap year between school and joining the army in 2004: He said in the speech that he “was amazed by its raw beauty; but I was also struck by the many children I met whose lives had been shattered by the loss of a parent and in some cases both.”
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He vowed to set up a charity with Prince Seeiso in honor of both of their mothers. The result as Sentebale, which means ‘forget me not’ in the local Basotho language.
The opening of the children’s center will enable Sentebale to improve its services: It will provide accommodation for up to 96 youngsters and their caretakers. It also has a medical block, workshop space, classrooms and a sports field.
The center’s live-in camps, Harry said, gives children “the chance to share with each other how HIV affects them and how they cope with it in a safe and accepting environment.”
Harry added that “sessions in hygiene, nutrition and anti-retroviral therapy, as well as HIV-focused games, sports, arts, crafts and drama all help to inform while boosting self-confidence.”