Fifty-six year old Hajabba has been selling oranges since 1970s.As this illiterate vendor set out to sell oranges everyday, he watched children of his remote village walk several kilometers to reach school.
He did not like this. He wanted a government school in his own village,Harekala, 54 km from Mangalore. He wanted it so badly that he toiled for several years,visiting government officials,NGOs,elected representatives and everyone else who had the power to get a school erected.
As a result of his repeated requests and appeals, in 2001 Hajabba succeeded in starting a government lower primary school which later grew into a higher primary school and then a high school. At present, there are about 250 students studying in the DK ZP Primary and High School at Harekala.
Apart from government aid, Hajabba managed to collect about Rs 18 lakh through sponsorship. The money he received as awards,like the Rs. 5 lakh that he received from Real Heroes award given by CNN-IBN, too has been utilized for the betterment of his school.
Talking to BBC, Mr. Thufail Muhammad, a senior journalist at The Hindu newspaper who has covered Mr Hajabba during his struggles,said, “He earned very little to even dream of starting a school. But, his determination to educate others drove him towards success. In a country like India where education is not the primary goal for many rural families, Mr Hajabba is a shining light.”
His success story has been featured in several international newspapers. Mangalore University and Kuvempu and Davangere Universities have inducted Hajabba’s story into their B.Com textbooks.
Mr Hajabba is now working to turn his next dream into reality – getting a college for his village.
Image Courtesy: The Hindu