HE HAS seen education from two polar opposites.
As a maths teacher at independent St Edward’s School in Woodstock Road, Oxford, Henry Chitsenga serves Britain’s public school system.
But he has never forgotten the dire need for education in his native Zimbabwe.
Now he has been honoured for setting up two charities to improve orphans’ schooling and health care.
The father-of-three, 48, worked in Zimbabwe schools before moving to Oxford in 2005.
He has since set up Zimbabwe’s Mwana Trust and the UK’s SuchHope (Sub-Saharan Children’s Hope Trust).
He has been honoured with a Lifetime Outstanding Contribution award from the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards, which was founded in 2010 by business entrepreneur Conrad Mwanza.
Born in 1966 in Nyanga, a town in north eastern Zimbabwe, he said: “I grew up in a very poor area. I struggled with my education and paying the fees.
“My parents were very poor farmers living in a rural area and couldn’t afford my fees. I had to start working in a factory after school to earn some money.
“In Zimbabwe if you don’t pay fees you are kicked out of school.
“It was a very painful experience, which I don’t want any child to experience.”
In the 1990s Zimbabwe had one of the best education systems in Africa, with an adult literacy rate at 84 per cent.
But since the country’s economic downturn there has been a dramatic fall in the number of children able to go to school.
SuchHope fundraises in the UK to help the Mwana Trust fund healthcare, education and secure housing for orphans across Zimbabwe.
The Wolvercote resident said: “I have looked after more than 2,000 orphans by setting up two charities. We pay for the funds of the orphans. We look after their health – some are HIV positive – and if they are ill we take them to hospital.
“For school we pay their fees and buy them uniforms and stationery. We look after them until they have finished their secondary education.
“It’s because of my philosophy – I want to leave this world a better place than when I found it.”
His hard work is beginning to pay off – 11 of the orphans funded by SuchHope are now at university in Zimbabwe.
Mr Chitsenga said: “I feel proud of them, I know what they have done and don’t expect any pay back.”
He said of the award: “It’s a huge honour, but I feel a bit uncomfortable.
“What I have done on the ground is the result of teamwork with teachers and parents. It was all done with teamwork, not just me.”
Children Takura, 16, Tanaka, 15, and Tariro, 13, are at his school and he said: “It is a school that has a sharp and clear vision of what their future is like and they are given opportunities to identify and develop their talents.
“I can hardly compare the education they received when they were in Zimbabwe to the education they are receiving here.”
School warden Stephen Jones said: “We are immensely proud of Henry and absolutely delighted that his tireless efforts have been acknowledged and rewarded.
“He is an inspiration to our pupils.”