Padma Shri recipient Harekala Hajabba has been honored by Dr. Thumbay Moideen, Founder of Thumbay Group, on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, during his visit to Thumbay Medicity, Ajman United Arab Emirates. Harekala Hajabba is an Indian social activist and a humble fruit seller, who spent his life earnings to build a school for the children of his village – Harekala-Newpadpu village in Mangalore (India) – that did not have one. The school, currently, has 175 underprivileged students from the village.
Harekala Hajabba appreciated the facilities offered at the Thumbay Medicity and thanked the founder president’s hospitality in felicitating him. Recognizing Hajabba’s contribution to the society, Thumbay Moideen said, “His determination to save the children of his village from facing the plight of illiteracy is an inspirational story, and his hard work in getting the school started with limited earnings is truly commendable. We pray for his good health and wish him success in all the ambitions to serve the community.”
Hajabba, who sells oranges at Mangaluru bus depot since 1977, does not know how to read or write and has never been to school. However, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, for his initiative and achievement in 2020. Born into a Muslim family of very modest financial means, Mr. Hajabba dropped out of school at an early age in order to earn money and contribute towards family expenses. Many years ago, when a foreign tourist asked him the price of an orange in English, he did not understand what had been said and felt embarrassed. He had not had the privilege of any kind of formal education. That day he vowed to make a school in his village and dedicated a portion of his savings from selling oranges to start a school in his village, Newpadapu. He was able to start a small school which has today grown with government support and donations from private individuals, and is popularly known as Hajabba School.
Affectionately known as ‘Akshara Santa’ (letter-saint), Mr. Hajabba’s extraordinary contributions have helped the cause of education in his native village. His next dream is to build a pre-University college in his village.