King Letsie III Launches Sentebale Mamohato Children's Center In Lesotho
On Thursday 26th November 2015, His Majesty King Letsie III opened the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre at Thaba Bosiu in Lesotho, in the presence of Sentebale’s Founding Patrons, Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso.
Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is one of the least developed countries in the world. With the second highest prevalence rate of HIV, one in three children are orphaned and there are around 21,000 10-19-year-olds living with HIV; it’s no surprise only 30% of them are accessing treatment. With many forced to fend for themselves, leaving school at a young age to find work or care for their younger siblings, and with little or no knowledge of HIV/AIDS, life is a challenge.
The ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre will be the flagship facility that supports all of Sentebale’s work with vulnerable children in Lesotho. Named after His Majesty King Letsie III and Prince Seeiso’s mother, the late Queen ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso, who was known as the Mother of the Nation, the centre will be used to hold a range of events and workshops to benefit vulnerable children. These will include hearing assessments for children with hearing disabilities, training workshops for organisations caring for vulnerable children, peer educator workshops and forums and, specifically, it will host camps delivering psychosocial support to children living with HIV.
The aim of Sentebale’s camps is to ensure all 10-19-year-olds living with HIV access and adhere to their anti-retroviral treatment, feel supported in school, at home and in the community, and are able to lead healthy and productive lives. In addition, the camp inspires child-to-child communication encouraging children and young people to teach each other about the disease, breaking down stigma that prevents many knowing their status and accessing treatment.
The opening of the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre is a key milestone for Sentebale. It demonstrates the progress made in the last ten years in supporting children in Lesotho and initiates Sentebale’s plans to replicate this proven model in other southern African countries where there is a similar need. The centre will allow four times as many children living with HIV to attend camp, and will provide a hub for training as the charity expands.
In support of the event, Aranda Textile Mills donated 100 blankets for the children, and additionally donated 5 newly created M'arona Basotho Heritage Blankets to the Royal Party. The M'arona blanket was created in honor of the memory of the late Queen Mamohato, whom the children's centre was name for. Aranda originally launched ‘M’arona (Mother of All) design at the Royal Fashion Affair II in Maseru on the 8th October 2015, at which occasion the blanket were presented to King Letsie III and Queen Masnate. The designs features a collection of elaborate interlinking hearts that depicts her love for the Basotho nation, truly the Mother of Basotho, and her love for the Basotho blanket wearing tradition. It also features elements of a Royal Crown and a Basotho hat combined into a unique crown, this depicts her Royal status.