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Prince Harry and Meghan are in Nigeria to champion the Invictus Games and highlight mental health

Nigeria Invictus Games
Posted at 6:51 AM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 08:51:11-04

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, arrived in Nigeria on Friday to champion mental health for young people affected by conflicts and to promote the Invictus Games, which the prince founded to aid the rehabilitation of wounded and sick servicemembers and veterans.

The couple, in the West African nation for the first time on the invitation of its military, visited the Lightway Academy college which receives support from their Archewell foundation to educate and train young girls affected by conflicts in Nigeria.

Harry and Meghan will also be meeting with wounded soldiers and their families in what Nigerian officials have said is a show of support to improve the morale of the soldiers, including those fighting a 14-year war against Islamic extremists in the country's northeast.

“This engagement with Invictus is giving us the opportunity for the recovery of our soldiers,” Abidemi Marquis, the director of sports at Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters, told reporters on Thursday.

Harry served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter copilot gunner, after which he founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to offer wounded veterans and servicemembers 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.

The couple were received at the Abuja school by a dancing troupe and a crowd of excited students and teachers.

Student Nnenna Okorie couldn’t hide her excitement at meeting the couple. “She is the prettiest human being ever,” said Okorie, a senior student at the school. “I admire her so much and then Harry. I love how he is so supportive,” she said.

During their stay, Harry and Meghan will attend basketball and volleyball matches and will meet with local non-governmental organizations 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 Organization, according to their spokesman Charlie Gipson.

The news of Meghan’s visit excited some in Nigeria where her life — and association with the British royal family — is closely followed. Meghan has also said in the past that she found out through a genealogy test that she was 43% Nigerian.

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.

“Eighty percent of our soldiers that have been involved in this recovery program are getting better (and) their outlook to life is positive,” Marquis, the military’s sports director, said.

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

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