Australia

'A little girl with big dreams': Sister's tribute to Aya as body returns home

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In a touching Instagram tribute, the sister of Aya Maasarwe has given "big thanks" to Australia.

As the body of 21-year-old exchange student Aya Maasarwe travelled home for the last time, her sister Noor made a touching tribute to "a little girl with big dreams".

The Instagram post gave "big thanks" to the people of Australia and called on the public "to make the world a better place for us to survive in and for the next generation".



"She was living a dream in Melbourne, a dream that ended up being worse than a nightmare," the post read. 

The caption accompanied a photo of a painting by Aya in 2014 that said "dare to dream" against a night sky. 

Aya Maasarwe.
Aya Maasarwe.
AAP

Ms Maasarwe was on a FaceTime call with another one of her sisters, Ruba, when she was attacked shortly after midnight last Wednesday. 

"We tell women if they feel unsafe to make a call so that they can feel safe," she wrote. 

"But what do we tell men to do?"

On Tuesday, relatives boarded a flight to Israel alongside Ms Maasarwe's body, carrying with them numerous cards, artworks and tributes from the Australian public.

Earlier in the day, Aya's father, Saeed Maasarwe, visited the tributes at the site where her body was found in Bundoora for the last time, breaking down as he received condolences from local residents.

Ms Maasarwe was attacked shortly after she disembarked the 86 tram on her way home from a comedy night in North Melbourne. 

Ms Maasarwe's cousin, Sharef Masarwa, said his family at home in the Israeli city of Baka al Gharbiyye, an hour north of Tel Aviv, were "very grateful" for the support of the Australian community.

Saeed Maasarwe meets Bundoora residents before flying home on Tuesday.
Saeed Maasarwe meets Bundoora residents before flying home on Tuesday.
SBS News

On Monday night, hundreds of people farewelled Aya with a traditional Muslim ceremony at a mosque in Melbourne.

The service was held at the Albanian Islamic Centre of Dandenong and involved a cleansing ritual performed on the body called a janaza and a multi-faith communal prayer session. 

The body of Ms Maasarwe, a Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship, will be buried in line with her Muslim faith after a funeral on Wednesday.

Codey Herrmann, 20, has been charged with Ms Maasarwe's rape and murder.

With AAP

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