Harry and Meghan champion Invictus Games and mental health in Nigeria

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan arrived in Nigeria on Friday to champion the Invictus Games and support mental health for young people affected by conflicts.

Harry founded the Invictus Games to aid the rehabilitation of wounded and sick service members and veterans, among them Nigerian soldiers fighting a 14-year war against Islamic extremists.

He and Meghan, visiting the West African nation for the first time on the invitation of its military, arrived in the capital, Abuja, early in the morning, according to defence spokesperson Brigadier General Tukur Gusau.

The couple visited the Lightway Academy college which receives support from their Archewell Foundation to educate and train young girls affected by conflicts in Nigeria.

As they kicked off an inaugural mental health summit organised by local non-profit GEANCO, which partners their foundation, the couple were greeted by a dancing troupe and a crowd of excited students and teachers.

“We’ve got to acknowledge those amazing dance moves,” Meghan said. “My husband was excited to jump up.”

They then went into the classrooms to talk to the children, who showed robot cars they had built.

They spoke to the students about mental health, and about their own children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

“In some cases around the world … there is a stigma when it comes to mental health. Too many people don’t want to talk about it,” Harry said.

“So will you promise to us that after today, no more being scared, no more being unsure of mental health?”

Meghan praised her husband’s openness.

“You see why I’m married to him?” she said of Harry amid cheers, before urging the schoolchildren never to be ashamed of their experiences in life.

“It is a complete honour to have our first visit to Nigeria, be here with all of you. We believe in you. We believe in your future,” she said.

Student Nnenna Okorie could not hide her excitement at meeting the couple.

“She is the prettiest human being ever,” she said. “I admire her so much and then Harry. I love how he is so supportive.”

The couple will be meeting wounded soldiers and their families in what Nigerian officials have said is a show of support to improve the soldiers’ morale and wellbeing.

“This engagement with Invictus is giving us the opportunity for the recovery of our soldiers,” Abidemi Marquis, the director of sports at Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters said.

Harry served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner, after which he founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to offer wounded veterans and service members the challenge of competing in sports events similar to the Paralympics.

Nigeria was among the nations that participated in last year’s edition of the games.

During their stay, the couple will also attend basketball and volleyball matches and will meet local non-governmental organisations in Abuja and Lagos that are receiving support from them.

Meghan will also co-host an event on women in leadership with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organisation, according to their spokesperson Charlie Gipson.

The Nigerian military has touted the Invictus Games as one which could help the recovery of thousands of its personnel who have been fighting the homegrown Boko Haram Islamic extremists and their factions since 2009 when they launched an insurgency.

“80 per cent of our soldiers that have been involved in this recovery programme are getting better (and) their outlook to life is positive,” Mr Marquis said.

“The recovery programme has given them an opportunity to improve their personal self-esteem, to improve their mental health and emotional intelligence.”

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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