A fruit vendor from Mangaluru in Karnataka, Harekala Hajabba in a simple white cotton shirt and a dhoti walked on to receive the Padma Shri award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday. The audience cheered for him heartily while the President handed him over the award and he deserves the applause.
Harekala Hajabba spend his life earnings to build a school for the children of his village named Harekala Newpadpu village in Mangaluru where there was not a school before he built one.
The school currently has 175 underprivileged students from the village. It has been a great gesture by Harekala Hajabba who doesn't even know how to write and read has built a school for the children in the village. He has been selling oranges at Mangaluru bus depot since 1977.
Harekala Hajabba expressed his desire to bring a change in education in his village in 1978 when a foreigner asked him the cost of the orange. When he was asked why he has made his mind to built a school, he said while quoted by ANI, "As I could not communicate with the foreigner, I felt bad and decided to build a school in the village."
"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 Akshara Santa (Letter Saint), a title that he earned through his philanthropic work, approached former MLA late UT Fareed, who sanctioned the construction in the year 2000.
The school started with 28 students and now accommodates 175 students until Class 10. Now, Harekala Hajabba wants to invest the prize money that he has received after winning various awards in these many years in the construction of more schools in his village, a Zee News report said.
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. He also thanked President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, district in-charge minister Kota Srinivasa Poojary and MLA UT Khadar for recognising his philanthropic work.