Rick Hansen Foundation – Difference Maker Award
Ajmal Samuel was an officer in the Pakistan Army specializing in telecommunication engineering when, at the age of 21, he was involved in an accident resulting in a permanent spinal cord injury, effectively ending his military career. Forced to reassess his future, Samuel derived great inspiration from his doctor, a spinal injury specialist who was also a wheelchair user. Samuel made the decision to pursue a degree in information technology at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany.
When Samuel decided to move to Hong Kong, he arrived without a job in hand and without speaking Cantonese. He threw himself into the job market and, many rejections later, was offered a job in a small company to repair computers. Although Samuel was overqualified for the position, he devoted himself to doing his best. He spent the next 19 years working for different firms and eventually rose to become CEO and President of CityLine Hong Kong, an outsource ticketing infrastructure provider. In 2009, Samuel set up his own company – ASAP Transaction Processing – a firm specializing in payment processing.
As determined in play as he is in work, Samuel is a serious athlete and competes internationally in handcycling, iron-man competitions, marathons, and triathlons. He represented Hong Kong in 2006 at the All-China Disabled Biking Race where he came in second place. In 2007, he competed in the hand-cycling segment of the renowned Tour De France and was ranked #27 in the world. He first competed in Singapore at the inaugural international Aviva-Ironman Triathlon in 2007 and finished second overall in his category. Samuel is currently the Vice President of the Hand-cycling Association Singapore.
Samuel credits attitude, discipline, adaptability, communication, and integrity with getting him through his most difficult times. He is determined to raise awareness about issues that affect people with disabilities in Hong Kong in the hope that the able bodied understand the daily barriers faced by people with disabilities of all ages and abilities and become part of the solution to remove them.
Why Ajmal Samuel is a Difference Maker Ajmal Samuel has exemplified unwavering commitment to raising awareness about issues that affect people with disabilities and is a great proponent of those with disabilities reaching their full potential. His staunch belief in one’s ability to overcome perceived barriers to disability has been proven in his own life’s journey as a professional and as an athlete. By sharing his personal story of courage and determination, he is inspiring future generations to work towards a society of full accessibility and inclusivity.