Ettie Newlands


Harekla Hajabba earned $2.80 a day as recently as 20 years ago, selling oranges in Mangalore, India.

An English-speaking potential customer asked him the price of the oranges, and because Hajabba couldn’t read or write or speak English, he couldn’t respond and missed the sale.

That experience made him wish he could start a school. He didn’t want the kids in his village to go through life with the problems he had.

Still making $2.80 a day, he did start a school in a local mosque, and 28 kids showed up.

When he needed a bigger place, he got a loan. With it, and what he’d saved from his $2.80 a day income, he bought a piece of property and built a real school.

At first it had room for only the primary-aged kids, but eventually, with help from his government, he expanded it enough to include high school kids too.

Today, there are 100 students at the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary and Composite High School.

Hajabba is in his 60s now and is working on building a college for the high school kids to attend when they graduate.

In Mangalore, they call him Askshar Santa, which means Saint of Letters.

He’s been given India’s fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shir, which is given to people who do good things for India. 

He didn’t get the first or second or third highest award because education is not a priority in that country.

Corinne Sanders wrote Hajabba’s story on Morning Smiles, a “feel good” email site that, second to prayer, is the best way to start the day.

When you feel like you just can’t take on one more chore, or help one more person, or do one more good deed, Morning Smiles is a wonderful reminder that if we weren’t supposed to help, whatever the situation is wouldn’t have come to our attention.

To share again one of my favorite quotes from the Talmud: 

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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