The horrific and devastating impact of knife crime has been brought into painfully sharp focus for everyone connected to Dragon Hall with the tragic death of our friend, colleague and self-confessed tech ‘geek’, Abdul Samad.
Simply known to us as Samad, or as he introduced himself, with typical self-deprecation, as Salad with an ‘m’, here was a young man on the cusp of something truly special, someone who had found a calling in passing on his knowledge, vision and unbridled enthusiasm for technology to young people. At the new centre we are just opening, Samad was becoming its shining light, allying a chameleon-like quality to engage young people from every background to a skill set that included coding, app development, virtual reality and too many more to mention.
He was all set to fly, to move to even greater heights. And in doing so, he was reaching beyond the thousands who he had already helped, using technology as a vehicle to transform the lives of society’s most excluded young people. Therefore it is with cruel and bitter irony that some of the very people who Samad had dedicated himself to helping were the ones who ultimately took his life.
Much of our week has been spent listening to people talk about him, universally in the most glowing and touching of ways. He had an innate ability to make people feel at ease, to let them know that he was interested and cared about them. One person summed this up, saying that “straight away you could see how suited and enthusiastic he was for his work”, another stating that “he had a heart of gold” and a third recognising that he was “doing such incredible work to engage young people”. This is the impact that he had whether you had met him five minutes ago or had worked with him for years.
The result, the bewildering, utter and complete sense of loss facing his parents, brother and loved ones, has been heart-breaking to witness. If only those responsible had realised the total devastation that they would cause, then maybe, just maybe, Samad would be turning up to work tomorrow, all set to make the world a better place. Or if they had been able to witness his talents, to spend a moment in his company as he skillfully brought the wonders of technology to life, then they might have chosen a different path.
As it is, they must now contemplate what they have done, knowing that they snuffed out our brightest star. For us, that is a blow which we are struggling to recover from. We have learnt that not everyone is replaceable, as we will never find another like him. And this loss gives rise to our greatest regret, for all the young people who will now miss the opportunity to learn and grow through his care, guidance and sheer love of life. The word tragedy was invented to describe a situation like this.
However, we have made a commitment to him and his family that from here on we will redouble our efforts and turn our work into a living legacy that he would be proud of. As we navigate blindly through this uncharted territory, that is all we can do. We miss and we mourn him, but above all else we want to recognise and celebrate who he was, what he had started and why he was so special to so many.
In loving memory…