Inspiring Story Behind A Girl Who Battles A Bone Disorder

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Ummu Kher is a 28 year old girl who suffers from a fragile bone disorder but has a strong view to excel in her academics. When she was 14 years old, her parents told her that they would disown her if she continued to study. What took her ahead was her merit and strong determination as she proceeded to get admission in a prestigious Delhi University college. Later on, Ummu entered Jawaharlal Nehru University for her Masters.

She successfully cracked the civil services exam in her first attempt this week. She scored an all India rank of 420 and is expecting to get an IAS under the disability quota.

Kher, who has undergone 16 fractures and 8 surgeries due to her disease, went to Delhi from Rajasthan when she was in Class 5. Her father then worked as a street vendor selling clothes and her family lived in a nearby slum.

Kher took admission in Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for The Physically Handicapped, where she completed Class 5. She then went to Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust where she studied till Class 8.

“It was a charitable organization run by the government and I didn’t have to pay anything. Though getting one square meal was difficult, I was satisfied that I could at least study,” she said.
“Life was difficult, but what came after that was both difficult and painful,” Kher said.

“I wanted to study at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary school as it had better infrastructure and I had got a scholarship,” she said. But her parents were against it. They said that if she studied any further they will sever ties with her. “I was abused. My intentions were questioned because I wanted to study. It was the worst time. They said you have now got more education than a girl should,” she said.

She left home and took a jhuggi (a slum dwelling typically made of mud and corrugated iron) on rent. She paid the rent from the money she gets for taking tuition. She felt that the decision was more difficult than cracking the civil services exam.

“I had started taking tuitions but living independently meant I had to earn more money. From few children, the tuitions expanded to four batches — 3 P.M., to 5 P.M., then from 5 P.M., to 7 P.M., 7 P.M., to 9 P.M., and 9 P.M. to 11 P.M., in the night. These were mostly children from slum areas and I got between Rs 50-100 from each student. I couldn’t have expected more as these were children of laborers, iron smith, rickshaw-pullers etc,” she explained.

“Besides, for a girl to live alone in a jhuggi was sometimes traumatic. It was never safe but I had no choice,” she added.

Kher scored 91% in Class 12 and she got admission in Gargi College where she continued to fund her education by taking tuitions. Kher’s friend from DU, Abhishek Ranjan, explains her difficult college days, “She funded her education through the money she won at debates in DU colleges. You can earn decent money as the prize amount is high in some of the college festivals. But here too, she could not participate in debates that were organized in the evening as she had to take tuitions.”

Kher cleared JNU entrance exam for Masters after completing her graduation.

When a reporter asked her if she would forgive her parents for not supporting her, she said, “I don’t blame them. They were brought up in an environment that shaped their thinking. It is not their fault,” she said. “I have not made a phone call yet as they don’t know what civil services mean. But I will visit them soon.”

Her parents are now back in Rajasthan and her brother runs a small bangle shop.