Every morning, Harekala Hajabba sets out with his basket laden with oranges and makes the 25-km trip to Mangaluru. For thirty years, this has been his livelihood and in the last 15, every anna that he earns goes toward building schools and giving the poorest of the poor an education.
He has built a high school in Newpadupu, his native village and soon he plans to upgrade the school to pre University College for the poor children around his village.
His relentless toward the the betterment of children, which he does by giving them an education, has him many laurels. His life story is now a lesson in the syllabus of Mangalore University MA course.
But his dream of building the school did not come easy. In 1999 he convinced his fellow residents and started a school in a community mosque with few children.
Slowly the number of children grew and Hajabba decided to shift the school to a newer building. Between his orange-selling, he ran from the proverbial pillar to post, trying to convince the government officials about the need of a school in his village.
He got a small patch of land sanctioned for the school and in 2004 on November 14th the new school Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School was inaugurated in Newpadupu village.
In 2004, there were four teachers in the school and about 125 children were studying in three sections. Today the school has a Head Master and sports teachers.
Children here are learning computers and studying science like any other schools in Mangalore. Hajabba is now planning to build a play ground for the school children, besides planting trees around the school area. He is now pursuing the district administration to sanction permission for a pre-university college which is his next dream.
Hajabba says his life took a turn when he encountered a foreign couple while he was selling oranges on a hot afternoon.
The couple asked him, in English, how much the oranges cost. “I could understand only local Tulu and Beary languages, 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 schools. At the age of six the children here were made to help their mothers in rolling beedis which has been the main occupation of the colony members for decades,” he says.
“There are many girl children who stop going to college after finishing their SSLC. Most of these kids go back to rolling beedis till they get married.
The colleges are located far from our village and mostly these children cannot afford to pay the fees. We are hoping to begin a pre university college with the help of government so that the girl students who now discontinue education at SSLC could come here and study,” he adds....