Aziza Jaffer was born in Toronto, and raised in Burundi for ten years. She returned to Toronto briefly during 1994 as a result of the Rwandan Genocide. Aziza then moved back to Canada in 2002 to pursue university studies. After completing her Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours at the University of Toronto, Aziza received an internship from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) through the YIP (Youth Internship Program), and began working for a non-profit organization, Help The Aged Canada. She was placed near Kisumu in Kenya where she worked with Older Women Groups as a community developer, social worker and an HIV/AIDS facilitator in 17 different villages.
During her six month internship in Kenya, Aziza made the two-week trip to Ahero to visit Grans in the Adopt-A-Gran program. She was able to meet with most of them individually, sit down talk, laugh and pose for pictures with them.
“Despite the poverty, it’s quite incredible how much determination these people have,” recalls Aziza. “You can see the worries in their faces, yet a small visit from an intern from abroad brings a smile to each face. One gran even said ‘it feels so good to know that we are loved and that people like you visit us to ask how we are doing. It gives me hope to know that someone still cares about me.”
Aziza has developed a passion for working with Seniors; she often volunteers at nursing homes in her spare time. She has served as a member of the Multicultural Council for Ontario Seniors, and is currently a member of the Ontario Seniors’ Liaison Committee, and the Seniors Advisory Committee on Long-Term Care. Aziza sings to the Seniors, teaches them to dance, and hopes to one day be a spokesperson for them to help them resolve some of the challenges they are facing.
Aziza’s other interests include dancing, singing and acting and she is also involved within her Ismaili Muslim Community. She undertook indo-jazz dancing at Shiamark Davar Institute of Performing Arts. Her dance styles include African, Khatak, Turkish, Middle Eastern and Persian. Aziza speaks English, French, Gujarati, Katchi, Hindi and Swahili.
Currently Aziza works within the government with the Ontario Senior Secretariat in their Awareness and Education unit. This department is in charge of designing and implementing programs that bring awareness on issues our elderly face in our society today and suggests how we can improve their living standards and make their life more comfortable as a family member, caregiver, health professional or individual.