This is the story of a fragile girl with an inspiring smile who fought against all the barriers for her education to prove herself. This is the story of none other than Ummul Kher. This 28-year-old girl is an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). For Ummul, her story is not a fairytale. Poverty and genetic disorder was her constant companion. But nothing could break this woman's hard work and determination. She always dreamed of achieving success. She was in charge of her fate and destiny, and nothing could come in between her dream and her success.
You would not resist yourself to salute her after knowing that she lives with a significant disability. Her family disowned her midway. Hence, she has no family support and has self-funded her education from the age of 14.
Ummul Kher was born with a fragile bone disorder. Naturally, parents of a disabled kid handle him or her with extra love, care, and attention. Some parents go all the way to protect their child and beat all the challenges of their life. But in this case, unfortunately, Ummul was not the lucky one!
Ummul Kher was born and brought up in a slum in New Delhi. Her father owned a tea stall that can barely fulfill their needs. Owning a disabled child, Ummul was always like a burden for her family. Despite having a bad childhood, physically, mentally, and emotionally she never let her dream go. Her love for books and school brings her to this day. She studied in Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped and later in Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust till class 8. But when the situation did not seem to be working for the family, they decided to shut their shop and move back to their hometown Rajasthan.
Ummul's life completely takes a turn all of a sudden. Ummul's parents disowned her. Why? Because for better infrastructure and study, she wanted to enroll in Arwachin Bharti Bhawan for her senior secondary education and further pursue her education. From a conservative mindset, her parents thought that there is no need for their disabled daughter to continue her education. She also said that she was abused, and her intentions and dreams were always questioned in society because she never wanted to study. Despite having a scholarship in hand, Ummul's parents left her alone with a difficult family or study choice. They disowned Ummul.
Ummul, with her strong determination, took the boldest move that a 14-year-old may even think of. She left her home and shifted to another slum to stay independently from her family. She wanted to become successful in her life, and she knows only education was the sole answer for everything. She was so determined that she started her battle alone here. She got herself a small home in the neighborhood of Jhuggi Jhopri (jj) Cluster, Trilokpuri. Here she has to pay for her living. And it was more difficult than cracking the civil service for her. So she began taking tuitions of the kids in the slum and charged Rs 50-100 per child. She could not expect more than that because these were mostly kids from slum areas and kids of laborers, ironsmiths, rickshaw pullers, etc.
From a few children, the tuition batch extended to hours and hours. From 3 pm to 11in the night, she dedicated nearly 8vhours per day to her living. This was the money from where Ummul financed her tuition for classes 9 and 10. But it was not much for her living, but she was doing just fine then. A girl living alone also was very traumatic for her. She was never safe, but again, she had no choice then. Sahana Begum, who lives in Trilokpuri, where Ummul lived for around three years, also said that living alone was never easy for Ummul. She also said that her daughter used to sleep with her for safety, and in return, Ummul gave her daughter free tuition.
Because she performed exceptionally well in her studies, she got help from a teacher and received educational support from Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust. She passed 12th with excellent marks and got admitted to Gargi College of precious Delhi University. There she founded her education fee by winning cash prizes in the debates organized by the College. For her post-graduation degree, she cleared Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) entrance exam. She also cracked the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), and for that, she got a scholarship amount of INR 25,000 per month.
Also, she was getting Rs 2000 means cum merit scholarship. So she finally did not have to give tuition for her living and prepare for her study without the thought of making money. It was sudden that her luck seemed to be taking a turn, which was a right turn. For this, she didn’t have to work for long hours to make some money to maintain her living and her study. Her blood and sweat efforts seemed to be paying off finally. And this was one of the first happiest moments of her life.
In 2012 she met with an accident which made her confined to a wheelchair for a whole year. Ummul also suffers from a genetic disorder named Fragile Bone Disorder. Her bones are fragile due to this disorder, and a minor injury could cause extreme pain and discomfort. She also goes through 16 bone fractures, 8 big surgeries and has been in a wheelchair almost for a month because of this. But her uplifting spirit never loses any hope. Despite having physical challenges, she was always at par with the other students and was excellent in academics and extracurricular activities.
Despite having too many odds, Ummul has shown her true colors and proved her worth. She qualified for the UPSC exam in her very first shot. She ranked 420 in India overall. That was the moment she dreamed of, and finally, she was able to achieve her dream. The IAS was a dream for her. Despite pursuing a Ph.D., the IAS was a dream for this young lady that she never let it die.
She gave the IAS exam. And guess what happened? She cracked the exam in her first shot. Her total marks were 1001( in writing 795, in interview 206).
Will she forgive her family for leaving her alone in the city midway? Ummul never blamed them. She believes that they were brought up in an environment that shaped their thinking and mindset. So, she never blamed their thinking and their fault. Now from the past two years, their relationship with Ummul has improved.
So, this is the story of Ummul Kher, a girl who was born to live her dream. What the bravest girl Ummul is. She is indeed a destiny's child who made her destiny by herself. This story is the story of her struggle with the disease and the journey of becoming an IAS officer. Ummul's story is an inspiration itself. Especially for those going through a tough time and want to achieve something more significant.
“Your success and happiness lie in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” –Helen Keller