“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…”
Abdul Wajid Parray, Senior Java Developer at DVT, is a person of rare fortitude who has faced situations that would have most people reeling. Not only has he stood up to extreme adversity but has emerged with strengthened resolve and optimism.
Wajid (as he is often called) has been working as a senior software engineer at DVT for just over a year, specialising in Java. In October 2020 he completed his 13th month at DVT in the position of Senior Java Developer. “There are many technologies involved, but my speciality is Java and Java software development applications.”
He describes his journey to DVT as “the adventure of a lifetime”. “I have always experimented with different things, and always loved travelling. As part of that, I started my own travel venture at home in Kashmir, India. I wanted to use technology in the business because I have a technical background.”
The travel venture, appropriately called ‘Travelihood’, was based on volunteer tourism, and partly an attempt to bolster the flailing tourism industry for the benefit of local people. Unfortunately, the ongoing conflict in the country militated against his success, and he had to bear the losses and move on.
That is when he decided to come back to South Africa because he had lived and worked here before. When he started looking, he was very impressed with DVT’s website. What specifically attracted him was the people-oriented ethic of the company. When he approached them and was selected after a series of interviews, he discovered that – to his surprise and delight – it was all true!
And they have continued to prove their mettle: “This was a particularly difficult year for me. I had several misfortunes, most especially my accident, and I got such wonderful support from the many people at DVT who visited me in hospital – it was overwhelming. I am really grateful to part of the DVT family.”
The accident to which Wajid refers is a road accident that occurred in Edenvale, Johannesburg shortly after joining DVT; an irony after having survived a childhood unscathed – at least physically – in a military conflict zone. The accident has left Wajid with a prosthetic leg, but more importantly, with strengthened faith and commitment to help others.
“It is just destiny. And I feel God does not put us in situations that we cannot handle; and I can handle this!”
A native of Kashmir, the northernmost geographical region of India, Wajid probably honed his fortitude growing up in an area torn apart by political conflict between India and Pakistan, with some historical involvement from China.
Although Kashmir and Srinagar, the capital city, are still tourist destinations, tourism, as with many other industries, has been hard hit by the ongoing political conflict – as Wajid discovered when he initiated his technology-driven and volunteer-based tourism business.
“Although there is a bad connotation associated with Kashmir, it is still one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is situated in a small valley surrounded by three mountain ranges, including the Himalayas. We still have a fair influx of tourism thanks to the mountain ranges and lakes, and the alpine ski slopes. It is truly an amazing place to be, but tragically marred by conflict.”
Wajid was born in Kashmir in 1989 and lived his childhood during a period of intensified conflict. “It was difficult when I was growing up – it was not a good environment for children. The conflict started getting very ugly in the 1990s. As a child I saw many horrors – many killings and bomb blasts.”
Despite the conflict, Wajid managed to complete his education and start his career in Kashmir. He then worked in Mumbai for almost two years before coming to South Africa for the first time. In South Africa, he “found peace in terms of the freedom, the culture, and the environment.” Wajid’s first visit here lasted almost three-and-a-half years – from 2015 until 2018.
After returning to Kashmir for six months, Wajid decided to come back to Johannesburg for the work opportunity at DVT. He had to leave his family behind but does travel back annually. This was a very difficult decision for him, but it’s a choice he had to make, he says, for his career in software engineering and technology, and for the aspirations of his family – his mother an Urdu language teacher and his father an Advocate both strove to coach their son to succeed. With their encouragement, Wajid developed a love of language, which led to a brief sojourn in journalism – and a continued interest in writing. In fact, Wajid is currently producing a series of powerful short stories set in places he has lived and featuring people he has observed.
“You have to make a choice sometimes,” he explains. “Because of the political turmoil, work security is very precarious. For example, one never knows when the Internet will be disrupted by the turmoil. It is not possible for a technical guy to work in an environment that has no internet, sometimes for three months at a time!”
He is naturally concerned about his family’s safety, but at the same time, “every place has its pros and cons and they have lived there for a long time now … they are familiar with the environment and the situation.” He adds as a comparison: “South Africa is an amazing and beautiful country, but there is crime together with the comfort. And still, people live their lives and have families here – it is their home. For my family, it is similar – no matter how hard it is, it is their own.”
At DVT, Wajid has enjoyed – and continues to appreciate – the efforts the company and its people expend on mentoring and supporting – an attitude that extends beyond the workplace. As newly part of the team, Wajid has had only a few opportunities to provide mentorship, and hopes to do more in the future. In his personal life, however, Wajid is an old hand at volunteering, uplifting, mentoring and empowering.
Humanitarianism has been a driving force for him for most of his life; and is the reason he was drawn to the company culture at DVT. A real measure of his courage and fortitude is that Wajid’s accident has led him to intensify his efforts. He articulates this in terms of his faith and ability to transform his misfortune into a heightened sense of purpose.
The organisations that Wajid has championed are based in a range of locations and include various causes. One such organisation is ‘WeThinkCode’ that helps software engineering students through their studies and with job applications and career preparation. Another is the NPO ‘Yes We Can World Foundation’: “We have twelve students in India who are from subsistence farming backgrounds. These students wish to build a career in technology, and we mentor here as well. We have weekly sessions with them about ‘cracking’ interviews, technology, and so forth.”
“I also create websites for a few non-profit organizations. This is one way I can use my expertise for maximum impact – by creating a powerful online presence for these organisations. For example, I helped a Johannesburg-based NPO called ‘Slovo Centre of Excellence’. The website had a significant impact by connecting them with benefactors.” Another website success story was for a UN project based in Ireland, by the name ‘Love and Care for People’, aimed at empowering woman and children.
For Wajid, ‘diversity though inclusion’ is exactly what DVT is doing. “I am the best person to appreciate this – respect and appreciation for everyone allows us to work constructively towards a common goal.”
Never stop trying to make a difference, he adds – one small step at a time is all it takes. Here he quotes Mother Teresa’s powerful words: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”