It’s not easy to get onto the Western Province’s Under 15 rugby team, but for a blue-eyed 15-year-old from Mitchell’s Plain, challenges are made to be conquered. And he’s had his fair share.
Mujahid was only 9-years-old when his clothes caught alight while running past a potjie in the kitchen of his home. Severely burnt, he was rushed to Melomed Private Hospital in Mitchell’s Plain before being transferred to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. With such extensive burns that even his vocal cords were affected, Mujahid underwent lengthy surgery and spent 11 days in the paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). With water on his lungs and a range of other complications, the priest was called in to consult with the family.
Mom, Kamilla, says, “They told us to prepare ourselves and said that our son was probably not going to make it but I wasn’t interested in hearing it. And I was right! Mujahid eventually woke up and the first thing that he asked for was a Coco-Cola.”
Recovery in the Burns Unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital took nearly half a year out of Mujahid’s childhood, but he wasn’t prepared to feel sorry for himself. In fact Kamilla recalls fetching him from Hospital on a Friday and the doctors bringing him out on a wheelchair. When he returned on the Sunday, he was on foot and went running back into the ward.
“His birthday was in April and I gave him that deadline. I made him walk and sit up so that he would recover from the skin grafts and I told him that by his birthday, he needed to be at home with his family,” Kamilla explains.
The youngest of three, Mujahid took to the challenge. His mom certainly wasn’t going to let him have a pity party and so by his birthday, he returned home for the real thing.
It’s because of his close-knit family and their refusal to see him differently after his injury that Mujahid is who he is today. His brother taught him to play rugby and would goad him into playing better and stronger. Every time Mujahid returned to the Hospital for check-ups, he would ask if he was allowed to play rugby but the doctors would warn against it because of his skin condition.
This all changed when he hit Grade 7 and the doctors finally gave him the go ahead. He practised and played until this year, he made it onto the Western Province rugby team.
“One day, I want to be an international rugby player,” Mujahid says, his blue eyes sparkling.
But he’s already proved that he’s a champion.