In order to honor IFORHER’s commitment to celebrating the stories of women born with undying courage, here is a story of IIma Afroz, who made an inspiring journey from a UP village to Oxford to be an IPS officer.
Ilma Afroz, daughter of a farmer in Uttar Pradesh has proven that if we believe in our dreams, then no circumstances can stop us from achieving them. It is quite inspiring how coming from a poor farmer’s family, Ilma made a journey to bagging 217th rank in Civil Services Examination 2017 to join the Indian Police Service (IPS).
Ilma’s success coupled with stages of struggle
Ilma belongs to a small Kundarki village in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Her father, who was a farmer, died due to cancer when Ilma was just 14-years-old. With a young daughter and 12-year-old son to take care of, her mother took up the mantle of raising the children.
“My mother raised my younger brother and I all on her own. She is a very strong woman. Instead of quietly accepting the norm—saving up for a girl’s dowry and marrying her off—she gave me the chance to fulfil my potential,”
With her mother’s support and her grit and determination, Ilma materialized her dream that many don’t dare to dream.
While talking about how despite her constraints, she kept working hard on her dreams, she mentioned:
“After my early education from local schools, I applied to St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. The three years I spent reading Philosophy in the college were the best years of my life so far”, she said.
“Looking back, it was the best decision I ever made (so far). Later, I moved to the University of Oxford for my higher education. I also attended Sciences Po, Paris as an exchange student”, she added.
Sharing the moment when she realized she wanted to use Oxford education for her own country, she mentioned:
“I was in New York City, and every single day when I came back to my downtown Manhattan room, I yearned for home. For Ammi, and the smile on her face. I would look from the window of my room at New York skyline and then the matchbox like yellow taxis on the road, numerous cars -so ubiquitous of the American dream”,
“Walking to the office every morning with a coffee cup in my hand just to get a bit of extra heat in New York chill, I would look around and ask myself, is Ammi meant to wait for me all alone in Kundarki? And what about those; the sweat of whose brows paid for my education so far? Will my Oxford education go towards running after the ‘foreign dream’? And I decided to come back home and work for realizing our own Indian dream”,
“Watan Ki Mitti”: The Real Inspiration
While dedicating her success to “Watan ki mitti”, she mentioned:
“I am a farmer’s daughter. Mitti, gives me joy. I grew up running on the pagdandi (sidewalks) of the fields with my father. The glistening golden fields feed us. The Khaki again is that of the same colour. And one day we all go back to it. So India and its mitti are my heartbeat”,
While sharing an inspiring message for every young Indian, she mentioned:
“As young Indians, we must work very hard and become a source of joy for the nation. The Preamble to the Constitution of India is a guiding light for all of us. Jai Hind!”
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Ilma and her inspiring journey of turning her difficult dream into reality. We hope her journey will inspire many young minds to dream big and not let our circumstances control us and our dreams.