H.R.H. PRINCESS Marie-Louise of Prussia, Countess Schönburg the great grand-daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II has lived in Marbella for many years.
She was associated with the UNICEF charity for 20 years but had to reduce her involvement in order to spend more time with her two growing children but with her husband Rudolf Graf von Schönburg who has been on the board of the Marbella Club Hotel since 1993, she has been at the centre of Marbella style and culture.
With her children ‘leaving the nest’, Princess Marie-Louise who is cousin to Queen Sofia, decided that she could return to charity work and was inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales who espoused the concept of dispelling the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Without financial help from any council, she managed to raise funds to set up a day centre for sufferers in San Pedro de Alcantara and she is still president of Concordia Anti-Aids Asociacion (ACAS) working tirelessly to keep the centre going and to educate the young in particular about the dangers of unsafe sex.
Things are so different today compared to two decades ago and the virus can be kept under control with the taking of a single pill each day but what the charity also does is arrange for those who think that they may be at risk to have a simple saliva test which will give the results, positive or negative within half an hour.
The princess realised at a very early stage that the impact on any individual who finds that they are positive has potential horrendous mental effects and therefore not only are the possible sufferers taken to the clinic for the test but they are accompanied by a trained psychologist to help comfort them if the news is bad.
Local Spanish residents seem to have taken this charity to heart and they are very supportive with generous donations to not only keep the centre open but also to allow regular visits by volunteers to local schools in the area from Estepona to La Cala de Mijas to give talks and to educate potentially vulnerable youngsters.
There has also been tremendous financial support from the German speaking community but English expatriates who have a wonderful reputation for getting behind all sorts of charities including animals, cancer, children, the elderly and poverty, don’t seem to be so interested in supporting this worthy cause, perhaps because they feel that it is a self-inflicted illness and that there are better causes.
Apart from education and testing, Concordia believes in helping the relatives of those who are infected and at the day centre, arrange to assist the young with different regular events such as learning to cook and being helped with English lessons.
Princess Marie-Louise works tirelessly to raise funds for the charity founded in 1994,to allow it to keep functioning and helps many of the local street people by feeding them, doing their weekly washing, offering them showers as well as driving them to health centres for tests and medication.
One of the means of raising funds is from the annual full-colour Concordia magazine which receives magnificent support from many major companies not only based in Marbella, but across Spain and even as far the USA and the charity has just unveiled its 20th Anniversary edition.
This is a very dedicated lady who perhaps because of her aristocratic background devotes so much time to helping others who are in a less privileged position than herself.
All offers of help will be welcomed by the charity which is based in San Pedro Alcantara and details of its aims and achievements can be seen at www.concordiamarbella.com/english/menu_en.htm