Yusuf Talia

Yusuf Talia has set himself the goal of invigorating young people and proving that they are all capable of attaining their goals if they maintain their passion and determination. Diagnosed at an early age with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Talia has been wheelchair-bound since he was 10. Now 24, he has a Bachelor of Accounting Science degree. In the first year of his second degree, a BSc at the University of the Witwatersrand, one of his lungs collapsed and he spent 42 days in intensive care. After recovering, Talia steeled himself for the task of catching up with his studies and is now in his final year. Fascinated with physiology, he dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Guided by the words of Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Talia believes that: “If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from it you cannot flee.” In pursuit of this destiny he contributes to a number of bodies on campus and in the Muslim community, with the aim of creating a world in which all our differences are understood and able to find expression. As a member of the Disabled Students Movement Talia organised the first disability awareness concert in the Muslim community, in 2009. He has represented student interests on the Higher Education Disability Service Association for the past two years. As president of the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa, Talia does not only focus on issues of disability. He is also the head of mentorship at Redineo, an organisation that steers the educational development of underprivileged children. “Every individual has something of value that must be nurtured and channelled to make a difference to those around them, creating a ripple effect that benefits all of humanity,” he explains. — Taryn Mackay