09/01/2004 at 04:00 PM EDT
Britain's Prince Harry has made a surprise top-secret trip to the African kingdom of Lesotho to check up on some of the people and projects that so moved him during his vacation of volunteer work earlier this year, PEOPLE reports.
Harry, who turns 20 in two weeks, was particularly captivated by the country's struggle against the scourge of AIDS and HIV when he was there for two months in the spring. The prince told friends that he did not want his previous visit to Lesotho to be a one-time-only affair, and he vowed to keep in touch with some of the people he met.
This latest trip was a private one, and his handlers at the palace are remaining mum about details. But sources tell PEOPLE that Harry went back to see the Mants'ase Children's Home, near Mohale's Hoek, where many of the orphaned children have lost parents to AIDS.
It was at the orphanage that he posed for photos with a 4-year-old boy as they planted a fruit tree and Harry helped build a fence.
As he told reporters in March, he went to Africa to learn "about the culture, different countries. This is not exactly a place that everyone has heard of." Harry also stressed on his first visit that it was "a country that needs help. They haven't got enough help. I am learning for myself, learning about the culture and way of life out here."
Harry, who with older brother William on Tuesday quietly marked the seventh anniversary of their mother Diana's death, is currently preparing for the exams that will take him into Britain's leading military academy, Sandhurst. He's expected to take the assessment later this month. Upon passing, he'll join the army in 2005.