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Padma Shri Harekala Hajabba's journey: From selling oranges to building a school

Harekala Hajabba, received the 'Padma Shri' from the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, on Monday (November 8) at New Delhi. 

His is a heart-warming story that will inspire many. Harekala Hajabba, who received the Padma Shri civilian honour on Monday (November 8) from President Ram Nath Kovind, has changed the lives of hundreds of children in his village Newpadpu in Karnataka by opening a school out of his life savings. 

A humble orange fruit seller in the city of Mangaluru, Harkela Hajabba earns just about Rs 150 per day, and it was in 2000 that he decided to open a private school in his village following an incident that embarrassed him. In an earlier interview, Hajabba, who has never received formal education himself, shared that his eyes opened when a foreign couple asked him the cost of orange he was selling, but was unable to respond due to language barrier. This changed his perspective towards the importance of education and decided upon himself to ensure that the children of his village do not face the same fate.

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Since its inception in 2000, the Hajabba school in Newpadpu has transformed the lives of several children and had been receiving support from the state government as well as private individuals. Fondly known as 'Akshara Sant' (letter saint), Hajabba now aims to open a Pre-University college in his village. 

The Padma Shri award handed over to recipients today was announced on January 25, 2020, but the function had not been held due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

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