There are many inspiring people in London. From flamboyant artists to known entrepreneurs, the capital is full of individuals working hard to provoke a change in today’s society. But amidst the clamour of protests and public declarations, London also has many silent heroes, people that try to make a difference in a personal and modest way.
Living in this beautiful and vibrant city I had the pleasure of meeting one of them, Harry Desai.
Harry has been living in London for half a century now. In the house where he lives, there are three bedrooms, and all of them have been rented out to students for the last 35 years. All the earnings he has made since have become part of a Cambridge PhD fund focused on teaching and education degrees.
Over 300 people have lived in Burlington Close, they consider the house a home of their own, the flatmates family, and throughout the years, have kept on writing, and celebrating Harry’s birthday and Christmas together.
An Indian by blood, Harry was born and grew up in Kenya. He soon started travelling to proceed further in his own education, but people he knew personally did not have this chance and had to face a very different future.
“I left Kenya almost 60 years ago. I have lived ten years in Tanzania and the last 50 years in the UK. This is my home now. London is going to be my home forever.”
Harry is now 84, and his name has been known among Cambridge donors for some time: “I’ve known suffering and poverty back in those days. I know now that the most important thing is education.”
Harry feels like the gap between the rich and the poor is only growing bigger, and that the only hope for change is represented by the new generations.
“I believe in fairness, equality and justice. That’s why I’ve opened a trust account in Cambridge University for people that have no means of studying.”
Harry says that after his death his house will be sold, and the capital will go to his Cambridge fund. The Research Awards of this fund will go to students who are registered as candidates for a PhD Degree with a preference for those engaged in research in teaching and education: “My goal is to reach one million pounds”.
Harry’s house is filled with an astonishing amount of photos of different people dining at his kitchen table. The room seems to ooze history, as he sips his Earl Grey tea sitting in front of a multitude of black African statuettes: “Do you like them?” he asked, “An artisan in Tanzania made them for me