In this period of a global pandemic, everything seems negative. We can be inspired to be strong, positive and hopeful by those who have shown resilience in overcoming tremendous challenges without ever giving up.
The story of Ajmal Victor Samuel whose life and struggles, achievements and success, really puts a lot of things into perspective when we feel down or want to give up.
Ajmal was commissioned in 39 Signals Battalion. After two years of service, while returning from DBS in Kotli AJK, the van in which he was travelling met with an accident and fell into a ravine. The driver was killed and Ajmal was severely injured. He was evacuated to CMH Rawalpindi where it was determined that he had a severe spinal cord injury, paralyzing him for the rest of his life at a very young age. With little facilities for treatment and rehabilitation in Pakistan, his father sent him to the UK at his own expense.
After two years at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Ajmal went to Germany to study and work and received a degree in computing. Meanwhile, his father was sent by the Church in Pakistan to work in Hong Kong. During one visit, Ajmal decided to try his hand in Hong Kong in 1992.
Hong Kong was an exciting place with many opportunities, but Ajmal had to fight hard to even find a job, with many employers unwilling to hire a Pakistani in a wheelchair. Yet Ajmal did not give up and after many, many rejections, in 1995, he was finally offered a job as a computer technician, fixing computers. Even though overqualified, he took the job. After two years, he was head hunted by a Silicon Valley high-tech research and development company, working in Hong Kong and the Philippines. He then moved on and in 2002 was appointed as the President and CEO of an ailing ticketing company in Hong Kong which Ajmal turned around and created into a regional ticketing infrastructure powerhouse. In 2009, he decided to leave and become an entrepreneur starting his own company developing new multi-channel payment platforms. Four years later, Ajmal had to learn another bitter lesson as he watched his first company go into administration.
In spite of this big set-back, Ajmal continued on his entrepreneurial journey and in 2015 was able to buyout the same company in which he was working and once again took control of the payment business as the Chairman and CEO.
If you think these are the only hurdles that Ajmal has had to overcome, you would be wrong. Remember, he is in a wheel chair! In fact, as a result of that he was in constant chronic pain and relied on heavy doses of prescription opioids. In 2003, against the advice of his doctors, Ajmal stopped all his pain medication which he believed was dulling his reflexes and mobility.
To counter this ‘cold turkey’ experience, he took up sports, starting with handcycling, then moving on to triathlons and half ironman competitions, competing all over the world. he then took up rowing and with his determination was invited to test to be a part of the Hong Kong national team, which has held him to represent Hong Kong in the Asian Games, the World Championships, as well as many other international competitions.
Following are some of the medals which he has won for Hong Kong:
Asian Championships in Korea, 2018 – Gold Medal Australian National Championships in Sydney, 2015 – Silver Medal European Rowing Championships in Italy, 2015 – Silver Medal World Championships in 2015 in France – Ranked 20th in the world Asian Championships in 2015 in Beijing - Bronze medal Asian Games in Seoul, 2014 – Ranked 4th in Asia
He also, for fun, scuba dives and is a licensed deep sea diver. He regularly participates in endurance costal rowing and long distance cross-country hand cycling events, including riding his hand bike from Beijing to Mohe (the Chinese border with Russia, a total distance of 2,615 km in 37 days.
Ajmal’s many participations in sports is often done to raise awareness for disabilities, but also to raise money for different charities.
Ajmal’s life after his service in the Pakistan Army is surely inspirational.
Let us not let the pandemic or any other challenges we may face get us down. Learn from Ajmal: never give up and you don’t know where you will end up going!