The author invests in a new definition of heroism when he empowers the need of education, women and rural community in fine strokes of his gliding pen. While the country is buzzing debates on Nepotism in Bollywood, a fresh story from Tulail valley, Kashmir of Afroza Banoo that stirs your heart no less than a heroic feat of a true champion. Well for all we know "Champions fight the odds to Rise and Shine". "Shukriya" she says to the soldier who looks back and his chest swells with pride for one war he won without guns.
Miss Afroza Banoo’s story is an inspiring one of hope, sacrifice and will to succeed in face of tremendous adversity and societal discrimination. Her life story inspires women of Kashmir and Tulail Valley. She has emerged as a beacon of hope, symbolising that adversity and challenges in life can be overcome with self belief, hard work and dedication. She was born in an impoverished family in Baraub Village of Tulail Valley. Her father, Mohd Sharief, was the lone bread earner in a family having six children. He could barely make ends meet as he worked as a mason Her mother was a simple, illiterate housewife who did not keep well since the birth of her second child.
Being eldest child, Afroza was entrusted with household chores at a very young age. Since the family did not have a regular source of income, Afroza had a tough childhood wherein apart from looking after household chores she was involved in farming. Inspite of
these difficulties, she managed to keep alive her passion for acquiring education. However, for her it was extremely difficult as firstly no one in her family had ever been to school and secondly she had additional responsibility to look after her younger siblings and an ailing mother.
Born and brought up in such adverse and tough conditions, Afroza took all the difficulties in her stride and did not allow them to break her spirits. She wanted to study and though her parents were supportive, they were scared of societal norms wherein the education of girl child was discouraged and was a strict taboo. Relentless persuasion to parents resulted in getting enrolled in Govt Middle School, Angaikot for basic education. Being the only girl who had taken admission for higher studies, the family was subjected to lot of ignominies.
She persevered and outshone all her classmates and secured first position in every class. Later seeing her perseverance and determination, fate- accomplied was accepted by all those conscious keepers and guardians of the faith who were opposed to her perusing education. Afroza enrolled in Govt Senior Secondary School, Baraub for her further studies and here again she emerged as a trailblazer in her studies. Being the only girl student in the entire school, did not let this affect her and she again topped every class. All this while she was an inspiration for girls from nearby village to pursue education, to follow her footsteps and and this resulted in enrollment of girl student in large numbers. Afroza was in a dilemma when she wanted to pursue higher studies but there were no higher education facilities available in her native village and it meant she would have to move out of her village which was a difficult choice as her family could not afford the expenditure.
Her father then approached Commanding Officer of the local Army unit for help and guidance. Mohd Sharief Lone, being a dedicated and sincere soul was known to Commanding Officer, as he had worked for few days in the unit.
The Army Officer like a true soldier instantly offered him employment within the unit on casual basis which provided assured income every month. This kind act, enabled Afroza to move to Dawar to pursue her higher education. She completed her Bachelor in Arts degree from Government Degree College, Dawar in 2014 and thus becoming the first Graduate women in entire Tulail Valley.
The financial condition of her family further deteriorated as her father was not able to
work regularly because of ill health, Afroza started taking tuition classes for local children to support her family. In spite of the precarious situation she did not loose hope. In such a gloom, a ray of hope emerged when she saw a poster for recruitment of teacher for Army Goodwill School, Baraub. She applied for the post and was selected as a teacher for Army Goodwill School, Baraub.
Afroza Banoo has been teaching in Army Goodwill School, Baraub since Sep 2014 and
inspiring local girls to pursue their dreams. Presently, she is pursuing her Masters in
Political Science through correspondence. Her brother has been recruited in TA and all
her siblings are pursuing higher studies.
Isn't she Heroine of Kashmir ?