Prince Harry Is 'Carrying Princess Diana's Torch' in Fight to End HIV
George Mpanga, who goes by the name George the Poet and is joining the Kensington Palace Coldplay concert next month, has seen the prince in action in Lesotho, Africa, where the royal s charity Sentebale works for kids orphaned by HIV and AIDS.
George, whose parents arrived in the U.K. from Uganda in the 1980s, says that he is backing Sentebale’s gradual widening of their work outside of Lesotho around sub-Saharan Africa and into Botswana.
“HIV is a big problem there and it has always been a feature of Uganda social life and for a lot of people in our community, even over here in the U.K. I thought it was a shame that there was still such a stigma attached to it.
“For Prince Harry to be championing it through Sentebale, carrying the torch that his mum lit, is inspirational to me, it’s beautiful. It was a no-brainer when they got in touch. Everyone knows Princess Diana was our queen of hearts. You have to have heart,” George tells PEOPLE. “If you are going to take on something that big, you have to have heart.”
George the Poet was named as an ambassador for the charity in November, at the opening of the ‘Mamohato Children s Centre, when he witnessed first-hand how the prince and the charity he set up more than a decade ago worked in tandem.
“I found him really respectful. To understand that HIV is bigger than him, bigger than the royal name and any individual and to collaborate with the local Prince Seeiso and to connect with the actual people, and the young people, and the community was exemplary in how we all need to be in tackling the issue,” George adds.
People don t necessarily understand that young people are still struggling with the condition. “There have been major advances globally, but young people are the only group where incidences are increasing and is set to be come more of a problem.”
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He says Sentebale tackles it “in a novel way. Their whole thing is psycho-social support, ensuring that young people connect with other sufferers, and really tackle the stigma, and build a culture of adhering to their antiretroviral drugs and making sure they are taking their medicine. This is not just lip service – it is getting stuff done.”
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The concert on June 28 will help Sentebale raise money to widen its appeal away from just Lesotho. Harry has also started working to highlight the issues of HIV at home in the U.K.
“How can you isolate the issue and commit yourself to just one region?” the poet asks. “Sentebale has a strategy, a plan. I am about engaging with people and raising awareness. The expansion plan is really exciting and I am glad to be a part of it.”
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At the concert in June, he will read his read his poem We Can Fight, which he first revealed at the opening of the center in Lesotho.
And he has something else up his sleeve for the lucky 3,000 in the audience. “I’m toying with a lot of ideas.”
Tickets, costing from $115, go on sale Friday.