Chairperson, Maya Deaf Foundation
The question, “what has been your greatest life lesson?” may prove challenging for many young people to confidently respond to. But for 24-year-old Laszlo Maya, the answer is clear. For him, it’s “do what makes your soul shine,” because “life is too short to live it under the constraints of other people,” he says. Maya, who lost his hearing at the age of six, is the chairperson of the Maya Deaf Foundation, and is also completing his final year towards a BCom accounting qualification at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Following a successful cochlear implant, Laszlo can now hear up to 60% with a hearing aid. He has strived never to allow his condition to hinder his progress and stand in the way of his achievements. Despite being deaf in a school with hearing children, Laszlo held significant leadership positions, including senior head boy. He is strong in his academic endeavours, holds a keen interest in dancing, and is an avid sportsman who has played first-team rugby in high school as well as in university. He attributes his drive and motivation to God and his family. “Everything I am and have is because of God. Despite my circumstances, I grew up in a household where my family instilled in me the belief that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. Until this day I still believe that,” says Maya.
The Maya Deaf Foundation aims at raising deaf awareness, as well as raising funds for others who need cochlear implants and hearing aids. He also offers dance workshops for children, and spearheads an annual September #NotDEAFeted deaf awareness campaign. Giving back comes naturally to Maya, and his humility is memorable. “I wasn’t placed on this Earth to live for myself,” he says. One other strikingly memorable thing about this young leader would is his proclamation that “I love being deaf. If I had a choice, I’d choose deafness anytime.”
— Simphiwe Rens