Mangaluru, Jan 26, 2020: Harekala Hajjaba popularly known as ‘Akshara Santa’ or ‘Saint of Letters’ is an orange vendor from Harekala village in Mangaluru will be honoured with Padma Shri award. The Padma awards for the year 2020 were announced on Saturday.
He saved up money from selling oranges and started a primary school to educate the children in his village in Mangaluru. Having not learnt how to read or write, the motivation to begin a school came from his own inability to talk to a foreigner who asked the price for oranges in English.
Hajjaba started a primary school in his village in 2000 with just 28 students. He then took out loans and used up his savings to buy land for that school. A few years after that he also started a high school for students aged 10 to 14 in the same village. Seeing his zeal to ensure education for the children in his village, philanthropists joined the cause, helping Hajjaba with whatever money they can donate.
Hajjaba was awarded the ‘Person of the year’ by Kannada Prabha newspaper in 2004 and ‘Real Heroes’ award by CNN-IBN in 2009. His life story has also found its way into the syllabus of many universities in Karnataka. He has now been awarded Padma Shri under the ‘Social Work’ category for providing affordable education.