The Inspiring Story of an Orange Vendor who founded a schoolJun 26, 2018
For 30 years, he earned his livelihood selling oranges and since, 15 years, he has been working towards developing schools for the underprivileged children.
In spite of the fact that he came from a poor family background and had only oranges to sell as a means of livelihood, he took the onus of educating children from the backward classes.
An incident propelled Hajabba to live his dream of starting a school for children. Once, when he was selling oranges, a foreign couple asked the cost of the fruits in English. However, he was unable to reply because he could not understand the language. Then, the couple walked away. After this episode, he made up his mind that he would make efforts to educate underprivileged children so they would not suffer like him.
Hajabba with his pupils
In his colony, the children were made to roll beedis after the age of 6 years. Here, he took it upon himself to educate himself and them as well.
Also, the girl children would not continue their studies after SSLC and went back to rolling beedis. They were unable to afford the fees of the colleges that were situated far away from the village. Hajabba’s plans included starting a pre-university college for them so they can continue studying further.
It was in the year 1999 that he started running a school in a community mosque in his native village in Newpadupu that is located 25 km away from Mangaluru. At the start, there were few children studying at the school. Over time, the number of children increased. Thus, the school was shifted to new premises.
Then in 2004, he bought land to start a school. But, his savings were not enough to build a school. Here, he approached government authorities to raise funds by trying to convince them about the need for a school in his village. But, he was turned down by several people; still, he persisted in his efforts. Finally, he managed to save funds and started a primary school.
It was on November 14th that the inauguration of his new school Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School took place in the village. Initially, the school had 125 children, 4 teachers, and 3 sections. When the media houses learned about his cause, they ran his story. In fact, a Kannada newspaper, Hosa Digantha, wrote a story on him and was the first one to do so. Also, he started receiving donations. Additionally, he was offered 5 lakhs by CNN-IBN after his nomination for the ‘Real Stories’ award. The prize money went into developing the school.
Now, the school has 150 children and is located on 1.5 acres of land in the village. Presently, the school has a Head Master and sports teacher too. Also, the primary school has become a secondary school. Similar to other schools in Mangalore, the children are being taught subjects such as science and computers in his school. Also, Hajabba is looking to develop a playground for the school children. Hajabba gave his school to the government authorities and presently, children from all castes are studying there. There were talks of the school being named after him, but he declined as he did not want any limelight. Furthermore, Hajabba received invitations from universities to speak at various functions so the students can gain inspiration from him.
Also, in 2014, he was invited by the United Christian Association to speak a function. But, when the organisation’s founder Alban Menezes called him, Hajabba’s son picked the phone. Here, Alban was informed that Hajabba was admitted in hospital. Upon reaching the hospital, Alban spoke to Hajabba, who broke down and said that he has worries of not having a roof over his head.
Thereafter, through his organisation, Alban raised 1.5 lakhs and put in the rest of the money to construct a home for Hajabba. Within 4 months and at a total cost of Rs 15 lakh, a new house for Hajabba was constructed.
The house measures 760 square feet and has 1 kitchen and 2 bedrooms. Also, a special enclosure in the house stores all of Hajabba’s awards. The housewarming ceremony witnessed the presence of Hindu, Muslim and Catholic priests. Also, U.T. Khader who was Karnataka’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel were attendees at the function. Hajabba’s efforts need to be lauded. Also, his story has been included in the Mangalore University MA course syllabus. Moreover, he has been hailed as ‘Akshara Saint’ as a means of recognising his efforts towards society.