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 says his life took a turn when a foreigner couple wanted to buy oranges. They spoke to him in English. “I could understand only local Tulu and Beary, so I simply stared wordlessly at the couple until they walked off. I didn’t want my future generation to suffer or look like me. Hence I decided to start educating myself as well as the children in my colony who had never gone to any school. At the age of six the children here are made to help their mothers in rolling beedis which has been the main occupation of the colony members for decades,” he says in a report in Deccan Chronicle.
His dream of building the school did not become a reality easyily. He faced ridicule from the villagers. His own children were denied their meals, reports The Hindu.
In 1999 he convinced his fellow residents and started 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.
Now, the locals revere him for setting up the school but he is not distracted by the praise. He is a man on a mission. Harekala Hajabba is busy charting his next step – a pre-university college, reports BBC.
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