The Jasiri Courage
An Avozinha's gift to her children
Maria Dagmar Figueiredo
Meet Dagmar Figueiredo, my Avozinha (Grandmother). In my eyes, my Avozinha was an unsung hero who devoted her life to her family's wellbeing and community.
When my Avozinha was a teenager, she had a dream to follow in her father's footsteps and become a doctor. Sadly, this was never meant to be. My Great-Avo (Great-Grandfather) died in his prime, forcing my Avozinha to drop out of school and care for her four siblings. Her sacrifice enabled her brother, Francis Quadros to become one of Western Australia's most respected surgeons; and her other sibling's leaders in their fields.
After marrying my Avo (Grandfather), she moved from India to Kenya to build a new life for her small family. However, the move was shrouded in violence. Because a part of my family was not native Kenyans, they were targeted, like many in their community and many Indian-Kenyans were murdered.
When my Dad was 9 years old, my Avozinha and Avo made the most courageous decision of their lives by deciding to escape with their young family to Australia with the help of Francis Quadros.
This was a really scary time for her children, all under the age of 12. Recognising their fear of moving to a foreign land, my Avozinha decided to give them a word to help build their courage, and that word was Jasiri.
Jasiri in my family's native Swahili language means courageous, bold and fearless. It is a mantra that has been a guiding force for my Avozinha, my family and now myself.
When I was a little girl, an external family member abused me for almost a decade in secret. And despite my Avozinha, Avo and parents never knowing about the violence, they knew something was wrong.
One night, after a particularly rough stay with my abuser, my Avozinha and Avo sat me down at their kitchen table and began sharing stories of their lives growing up in Kenya and India. I must have looked sad because midconversation, my Avozinha stopped and said, "Bubba, you're Jasiri".
She went on to explain how her children grew up to be Jasiri warriors and that I was one too.
My Avozinha was my hero and her gift of courage saved my life. I believe she would have made an incredible Doctor and through our work at Jasiri, her spirit will live on in all the dreams we help create and the children's lives we change.
From my Avozinha to you, we're giving Jasiri to Australia and together we will build a tribe of fearless people committed to spreading hope and ending violence in our community.