School Built by an Orange Seller: Story of Harekala Hajabba
An orange seller built a school in a village near Mangaluru. The school is located in New Papdu in Harekala, which is 25 km away from Mangaluru. As the orange seller had a poor financial background he wished to help poor children. He rendered his helping hand to the poor children in the form of a school, that will enlighten the children’s mind and spirit. Through his school, children can fulfill their dreams. The name of the orange seller is Hajabba.
The villagers showed their gratitude by giving him the title ‘Akshara Santa’ or Saint of Letters on Harekala Hajabba.
“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.
Realizing the difficulties of a poor family he wanted to give education to children of poor financial background, for that he developed a strong vision of building a school with the money earned by him. Initially his wife showed objection later she understood that her husband’s vision can create wonders to poor children.
First of all he started a school attached to Madrasa including 28 students. Later he wanted to extend the facilities in the school and so he bought 50 cents of land for building a school with extra facilities. But the money he earned was not enough to build a school so he seeked the help of politicians and other personalities with good financial background.
“I once went to a very rich person’s house to seek funds for the school. But what happened was that instead of giving me money he set his dogs on me,” Hajabba says.
As the primary school construction was going on with the enough money he had collected, his story was published in a Kannada Newspaper. He got “Real Heroes Award” with a cash prize of 5 lakhs from CNN IBN. He spent that money for the school.
Due to the influence of social medias he got donations from various organizations and as a result school became a Secondary School with 150 students. The school area includes 1.5 acres of land.
“My duty was to only construct the school. I gave it to the government and now the government runs it. It is not only a school for Muslims. Poor children from every religion study in the school,” he says.
In 2014, the United Christian Association invited Hajabba to speak about his inspirational story in a Christmas programme. Alban Menezes, the founder of the organisation, called him many times to invite him for the occasion. After so many calls his son attended the phone.
“Finally, his son picked the phone and told me that he was admitted to Yenepoya Hospital in the city and was in critical condition. I rushed to the hospital and this is when the doctors told me there was something troubling Hajabba that was making his health worse,” says Alban.
When he met Hajabba Alban came to know about the pathetic condition of his family. Hajabba and his family were living in a house without a roof head. A man who toiled hard for the construction of school was living in an unsafe house. Deeply moved by his condition Alban had constructed him a house of worth 15 lakhs.
“I am truly overwhelmed. I am an ordinary man you see. I’m not even worth 15 rupees and these people have actually built a house for me. I have no words to express my gratitude,” says Hajabba.
The house has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a special place for keeping all of Hajabba’s awards and trophies. The religious head of three religions and ministers attended the house warming function.
“The district authorities have been very helpful. I’ve never had a gas stove in my house. The District Commissioner ensured I got a gas connection and a stove. This was sanctioned from some special fund. I feel I’ve been truly blessed,” says Hajabba.
But Hajabba’s story do not have an ending like the infinite stars in the sky and his vision and goals are not discrete but continuous as he is planning to build a Pre University college.