A fruit-seller has become the recipient of an honorary Padma Shri Award. The Indian Government gave Harekala Hajabba the prestigious award for his efforts in providing education to his village’s children.
The list of the 21 recipients of the award this year was announced one day ahead of the 71st Republic Day.
Kannada-based Harekala Hajabba, who is an orange seller by profession, successfully established a school for the kids of his village despite not having any formal education.
Praveen Kaswan, an IFS officer, took to Twitter to share the news.
As per the reports, it was an encounter with two foreign tourists that inspired Hajabba to open a new school.
The tourists asked him the price of the oranges he was selling in English. Since he did not know the language, he was unable to communicate with the tourist couple and they left.
Hajabba was hurt by the incident and did not want anybody else to go through it. Hence, he decided to give a chance to the children of his village to get an education and learn English.
During an interview with News Minute, Hajabba said: “I realised the manner in which communication can help one to progress in life, and at the same time bring people together.”
Earlier Hajabba’s village had no school, according to BBC. Hajabba managed to save enough money despite his low income and set one up in the year 2000. He also used his savings for purchasing land for the school.
Hajabba’s income was just Rs 150 per day and he received very little help from local and authorities. It was his will and determination which finally enabled him to set up a primary school in a madarsa. The number of pupils in this school was 28.
As more and more students started attending the school, Hajabba applied for loans. He used to mop the school premises, boil water for the students and carry out various other activities to keep the school running.
Last Saturday, Hajabba received a phone call from the Union Home Ministry.
While speaking to News Minute, he said, “They spoke in Hindi, I could not understand, but later someone from the DK DC’s (Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner) office told me that I was selected for Padma Shri award. I could not believe it or dream of it, but I was happy.”