Harekala Hajabba awarded Padma Shri. This motivated the orange seller to start a school

Updated on Jan 28, 2020 01:48 PM IST

Harekala Hajabba, who never received any formal education himself, won the prestigious award for building a primary school for underprivileged children in his village.

Harekala Hajabba used his earnings of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>150 a day and some savings to open the school in 2000.(Twitter/@ParveenKaswan)
Harekala Hajabba used his earnings of 150 a day and some savings to open the school in 2000.(Twitter/@ParveenKaswan)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

This year’s Padma Shri Awards have introduced people to a 64-year-old orange seller from Karnataka. Harekala Hajabba, who never received any formal education himself, won the prestigious award for building a primary school for underprivileged children in his village. A tweet about Hajabba and his efforts is also winning people’s hearts.

“Harekala Hajabba was in a line on a ration shop when authorities informed him that he got Padma Shri,” says the tweet posted by IFS officer Parveen Kaswan. “This fruit seller from Dakshin Kannada is educating poor children in his village of Newpadapu from a decade in a mosque. Doing all the efforts including spending his savings,” reads the caption further.

Hajabba, conceived the idea of the school after feeling “handicapped” while speaking to some foreign tourists.

“The first time I felt handicapped because of my lack of education was when a foreigner asked me the price of the fruits in English. I didn’t know what he meant,” he told the BBC during an interview in 2012.

“An idea struck me to start a primary school so that the young children of my village would not go through a similar situation,” he added.

Hajabba was convinced he had to provide a brighter future for the children in his village who couldn’t afford education. He used his earnings of 150 a day and some savings to open the school in 2000. Local authorities noticed his efforts and offered him help as well.

Hajabba’s unique contribution has struck a chord with people. Several people have posted comments on Twitter to celebrate Hajabba’s efforts.

The Padma awards, India’s second-highest civilian honour, were announced on the eve of the 71st Republic Day.

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