Kerala students fete Hajabba, scholarship announced

Kerala students fete Hajabba, scholarship announced

St Thomas High School (Kottayam) Principal Mathew M Kuriakose felicitates Harekala Hajabba at Govt school in Harekala on the outskirts of Mangaluru on Wednesday. Karnataka Janapada University former VC Prof Chinnappa Gowda among others look on.

May 2, perhaps would be a special day in the life of Harekala Hajabba, an orange vendor who built a school, as a group of 21 students accompanied with three teachers, came all the way from Kottayam in Kerala to meet and felicitate him.

It all began when Dr Nijoy P Jose, one of the teachers from St Thomas High School in Kottayam, received a WhatsApp message forwarded by someone about a year ago that “An illiterate orange seller in Mangaluru has constructed a school in Harekala...”

Though Jose thought it may not be true and that it is just another forward, he called Chandrashekar, one of his friends in Subramanya, to check whether there is any place called Harekala in Manglauru and whether there exists a person called Hajabba.

To his surprise, Chandrashekar told him about Harekala Hajabba and his achievements, which was hard to believe, recalled Jose.

Since then, he spread the word among his colleagues and decided to visit Harekala Hajabba.

However, all his efforts to organise an NSS camp in Harekala was turned down by the Kerala government, as there was no such provision (inter-state) unless approved by the Union government.

Left with no option, he decided to plan a cultural exchange tour with students, for which permission was required from the Education Department in Karnataka, as well in Kerala.

“To my disbelief, I received the permission from the Education Department of Karnataka within two days of my request to Harekala,” Jose said and added that the group was delighted to visit Harekala Hajabba’s school to honour him.

St Thomas School Principal Mathew M Kuriakose compared Hajabba to Mahatma, whose life itself was a message. “An illiterate giving life to literacy is something unbelievable,” he said.

Karnataka Janapada University former vice-chancellor Prof Chinnappa Gowda, referring to the catchy banner designed by the guests which stated, “Orange is not a fruit” (referring to Hajabba, who built the school by selling oranges), urged the students to find an answer to the question before they leave Karnataka.

He also recalled the efforts of Hajabba, who is illiterate and without a home (though an NGO constructed a home for him recently), for being a ray of hope in the children's life in and around the village.


On the occasion, Kuriakose announced a scholarship of Rs 15,000, the interest of which would be given for the best outgoing student of the school every year.

Harekala Government School Head Teacher Roopa, SDMC members Yusuf, Shantha and journalist Guruvappa N T Balepuni, who published about Hajabba’s story for the first time years ago were present.