On a day-to-day basis, I never know what to expect in Lesotho. Every day is different. Some days are sad, some days are happy, and some days are one-of-a-kind.
Yesterday, for example, was a pretty unique day in that I happened to meet three princes: Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and Prince William and Prince Harry of England.
Sentebale, which Prince Seeiso and Prince Harry co-founded four years ago to help the children of Lesotho, is a big supporter of TTL’s, and M’e Nthabeleng and I were invited to a small gathering at Sentebale’s offices in Maseru to celebrate the organization’s fourth anniversary.
There were about two dozen guests at the small luncheon event, most of them from the various charitable organizations that Sentebale supports.
Prince William and Prince Harry – in the region in part to enjoy the World Cup – served as the guests of honor at the event along with Prince Seeiso, who is King Letsie III’s younger brother and Lesotho’s ambassador in London.
Prince Seeiso is really amiable, and made his way around the room with a warm approachability. When he shook my hand he looked in my eyes, and when he read “Touching Tiny Lives” off my name tag it was with a genuine smile. Naturally, M’e Nthabeleng had him laughing out loud with a few quick quips in Sesotho.
Prince Harry and Prince William are both taller than I had imagined. They were dressed casually, and despite the formality of their positions, seemed in the small crowd like any other laid-back twenty-somethings. They also interacted with each other in the one-raised-eyebrow-means-a-thousand-words sort of way that only brothers can. It was endearing, and made me miss my own three brothers.
Unfortunately, M’e Nthabeleng and I never got to talk to them directly about TTL, but being in their immediate presence with our labeled name tags seemed like networking in its own right.
In his short speech, Prince Seeiso praised Sentebale’s staff and partners, saying the organization’s work has been getting sharper and more refined with each passing year. TTL’s mission to help orphaned and vulnerable children fits perfectly with Sentebale’s, and I consider our partnership – which started in 2009 – as part of that refinement. We are lucky to have Sentebale’s support, which stems directly from the commitments of Prince Seeiso and Prince Harry to the kids of Lesotho.
In a way, monarchs are strange figures for Americans – and for me – to grasp. We lack relevant comparisons, partly because many of America’s privileged aristocratic heirs – at least publicly – are socially-unconscious socialites with little to no responsibility.
Partly in light of that, seeing the three princes take time out of their obviously hectic schedules to meet with a couple dozen NGO workers was a cool experience.
They were there to say they care, that they take their titles seriously and respect the people on the ground, doing the work that they’ve helped make possible.
Lesotho, Sentebale, TTL and all the other organizations represented at the small gathering count on support from the outside world – and to see three princes leading the way was an encouraging thing to witness firsthand.
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation Touching Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity Touching Tiny Lives (TTL).