Bhubaneswar: Harekala Hajabba, a 66-year-old simple man who built a school by selling oranges on the streets received the prestigious Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, from the President of India.
The whole country saluted the 65-year-old Hajabba for his contribution and appreciated his humility for walking barefoot towards the dais to receive the honour from President Ram Nath Kovind Monday.
The street orange vendor has brought a revolution in rural education by constructing a school which has 175 underprivileged students from Harekala-Newpadpu village in Mangaluru.
Hajabba won more hearts when he requested for a PU college for his village near Mangaluru. He maintained that it was an honour to receive Padma Shri award from the President and also expressed his happiness over shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He had dreamt of building a school and kept aside a portion of paltry income that came from selling oranges. His father was a sand miner while his mother used to roll beedis.
Hajabba, who still sells oranges, decided to build the school and bring revolution in education in his village after he couldn’t understand what a foreigner was telling him back in 1978.
Hajabba earned Rs 75 everyday from selling fruits and provided for a family of five. Despite that, he managed to save money and with the help of locals and a madrassa committee, built the school in 2001.
“As I could not communicate with the foreigner, I felt bad and decided to build a school in the village,” the Padma Awardee told.
“I only know Kannada, not English or Hindi. So I was depressed as I could not help the foreigner. I wondered about constructing a school in my village,” he added.
His dream of constructing a school was realised only after two decades.
The school started with 28 students and now accommodates 175 students until Class 10.
When asked what his next target is, the 66-year-old man said, “My target is to build more schools and colleges in my village. Many people have donated money and I have accumulated prize money for purchasing the land for the construction of schools and colleges.”
“I have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to construct a pre-university college (for Class 11 and 12 students) in my village,” he added.