Sold Oranges to Build a School
Harkala Hajabba, an orange vendor from Mangaluru was recently the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award for opening a school for underprivileged children in his village. An orange seller built a school for the poor children in his village. Society has repaid the favour by giving him the most beautiful gift. Every morning Harekala Hajabba, an uneducated fruit vendor, sets out with a basket laden with oranges. He has made the 25 km trip to Mangaluru for the last thirty years. This is his livelihood and in the last fifteen, all the money earned has gone toward building schools and giving the poorest of the poor an education.
Hajabba’s life took a turning Point
“I have never been to school. At a young age, poverty pushed me into taking up a job selling oranges. One day, I encountered two foreigners who wanted to buy a few oranges from me. They started speaking to me in English and asked about the price of the oranges. But I was unable to converse with them and they left. I felt humiliated after this incident and was ashamed that the language barrier made them walk away,” he says.
Not wanting anyone else to go through what he had experienced, his life’s mission suddenly became clear to him. From that day onwards, Hajabba worked towards setting up a school so that the poor children in his village had access to education.
Residents and Started a School
In 1999 he convinced his fellow residents and started Build a School in a community mosque with few children. Gradually the number of children grew and Hajabba decided to shift the school to another building. Between his orange-selling he spent days trying to convince the Government officials for the need of a school in his village. Eventually he managed to get a small patch of land sanctioned and in 2004 on November 14th the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School was inaugurated in Newpadupu village.
This, however, is not the end of Hajabba’s story. He now plans to construct a Government Pre-University College in his village and has already started working towards the goal. And if his past is any indication, Hajabba will not rest till this dream is fulfilled too.