DUBAI // Britain’s Prince Harry helped raise more than US$1 million at last night’s dinner for a charity supporting child victims of the HIV virus .
The Al Jalila Foundation and Sentebale, a charity that looks after impoverished children in Lesotho, announced that the amount raised will go towards building a permanent HIV camp in the South African country.
In an emotional appeal in Dubai last night, the prince told an audience of 300 benefactors at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Dubai: “You can help provide a safety net for HIV positive children for whom no other support exists. You can help extinguish the stigma of AIDS for these children.”
He was speaking at a fundraising dinner in support of the Sentebale charity, in partnership with the Al Jalila Foundation, a children’s charity set up by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Sentebale provides facilities to children in the African kingdom of Lesotho, one of the world’s least developed countries, but which has the third highest HIV infection rate, with 23 per cent of adults and 37,000 children infected, out of a population of 1.8 million.
Life expectancy in the kingdom is the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average of 41 years in 2012, compared with 59 years in 1990 before HIV struck.
“There is an entire generation of children and young people who have very little information about their condition, including how to stay healthy and how to prevent infecting others,” Prince Harry said.
“Sentebale’s guiding vision is to give this generation the support they need to shape a prosperous future for themselves and their families. Talking about HIV and understanding it isn’t dangerous. Denying it, or not knowing about it, definitely is,” he added.
Dubai was represented by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Emirates Aviation Group.
Raja Easa Al Gurg, chairwoman of the Al Jalila board, said: “We believe wholeheartedly in how Sentebale is changing the lives of children in Lesotho and we are confident that together we can make a stronger impact.”
Sentebale in Sotho, the language of Lesotho, means “forget me not”. The foundation was set up by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to provide facilities for HIV-infected children. Proceeds from the global fundraising tour will be used to fund the Mamohato project, a series of programmes at a special site in the kingdom where children receive counselling and psychological support for HIV positive children.
The programme was recognised by the United Nations in 2010 as a model of international best practice.
Through week-long camps and monthly clubs, Mamohato “empowers young people to live life positively, knowing that they are not alone and instilling confidence and understanding that they can live a long and healthy life”, the organisation said.
The dinner raised money for the project through an auction of prizes, including polo weekends in the UK, rare coin collections, hospitality at the Dubai World Cup horse race, as well as works of art and jewellery.
The dinner was sponsored by Coutts, the British bank of which Queen Elizabeth of Britain, Prince Harry’s grandmother, is a customer, and by Garrard, one of the world’s oldest jewellers, in partnership with UAE jeweller Damas.