I met Andréia Fonseca Martins during at the Golden Lion Tamarin conservation park in Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro. She has a degree in Biological Science from the Universidade Salgado de Oliveira, and began working with the Golden Lion Tamarin in 1983 as a volunteer. In 1984 she became part of the Golden Lion Tamarin reintroduction team at the Poço das Antas biological reserve which represents most part of the few remaining wild golden lion tamarins in the world. Today she is the coordinator of the Metapopulation Program. Andréia lives in Silva Jardim and has published a number of articles and book chapters about Golden Lion Tamarin reintroduction, together with her colleagues.
I am very honored with the participation of Andréia in my ‘inspiring people project’. She is a noted campaigner and persistent activist for saving the golden lion tamarins from extinction, and travels around the world to spread the word and present the project.
Here is how she thinks about the questions:
WHAT DOES ‘FREEDOM’ MEAN TO YOU?
It means the guarantee of equal rights and opportunities for everyone, it means being able to do what I want, without harming others or acting against the law. It means that I feel safe in my own country and that I can feel happy, sad or angry. It means that I can speak freely and that I am heard. It means that I can make my own decisions and my own choices, it means having the right to come and go as I wish. It means that I can do the things that make me happy, that I can fight for my own choices and that I can help others without expecting something in return. It means being able to fight for a better world!
WHAT DOES ‘FRIENDSHIP’ MEAN TO YOU?
Friendship means respect, trust, being honest with each other. It means accepting differences and being always there to help out when someone needs me. It means not to focus on shortcomings, but to highlight qualities. It means helping your friend to make his dreams come true and hope for his success. It means being close, even when you’re far.
WHAT DOES ‘SUCCESS’ MEAN TO YOU?
It means making a difference in other people’s life, in work, in the world! It means doing what I like in the best possible way. It means knowing that I am working for a better world! It means believing that I can be happy with the few things I have and with my work. It means giving time the opportunity to show me the best way forward in order to reach my goals without harming others.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE THE MOST IN THE WORLD?
My mother, because she has spent a big part of her life working hard to give me and my brothers a better life. She taught us to respect people and accept differences. She showed me that working is the best way to make your dreams come true and she taught me to be honest and to fight for what I want and believe in, while showing respect towards others.
WHAT GIVES YOU ENERGY?
Waking up every morning and realizing that I have a new day to try to do better than the day before, knowing that I am part of nature and that I have the opportunity to fight for my goals, so we can live in a better world!
I don’t really like to dream about the future, because the future only belongs to God. I am here today, but I don’t know whether I will still be here tomorrow. However, dreaming is part of life. Therefore I always try to work hard in order to realize my dreams and sometimes those of other people as well. When I want something, I go for it and I always believe my dreams can come true if I just continue doing what I am doing. I do not worry about the time it might take, because I know that whatever has to be, will be.
IN WHAT ARE YOU A TALENT BY NATURE?
I think that the talent God gave me was to help and serve others. This satisfies me and makes me happy, because I always try to do my best when someone needs my help.
WHO DO YOU RESPECT THE MOST IN THE WORLD?
Everyone who spends part of their daily time to help those in need, everyone who fights for the conservation of the environment and for a better world for all mankind!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GROW AS A PERSON?
I think that I have everything I need to have an easy life. That makes me happy and therefore I thank God every day. I am sure that I am prioritizing the things that I have to do in my life in order to continue to grow. I try to think every day about where I am now and where I want to go, because I am the only person that can really make me happy .
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER THEY SAY. DID YOU EXPERIENCE THIS?
For sure! In general, when I encounter an obstacle, I try to change and see the world in a different perspective. I believe that everything happens for a reason and suffering is part of life! I try to learn from it, because we have to accept this reality, which is essential to move forward. Very often when I look back to difficult moments in my life, I think these moments made me a stronger and more independent person. In the end, everything always works out fine!
DID YOU ONCE TAKE A LEAP AHEAD BY TAKING A SMALL STEP BACKWARDS? HOW?
I always try to think things through before taking any decision in my life. But in life nothing is perfect and we always encounter obstacles along the way; sometimes I had to go back and start all over. When I got my first job, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do in my life. So I searched for other jobs until I arrived where I am now. Today I prefer to take small steps in the right direction instead of going back and start all over again. I think the most important thing is to establish a specific goal and keep my mind focused on it.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
I would like to end war, poverty and prejudice, because we are all brothers for God and we need to respect each other and take care of our planet for the greater good.
WHAT IS THE MOST PRECIOUS FOR YOU?
Life! It is the most precious thing I have and it is short! So I have to do my best, while I have the opportunity; it is my family who is always by my side giving me strength and helping me to move forward.
IS THERE SOMETHING THAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO, BUT NEVER DARED TO?
No, I always find a way to do the things I want, I can change the date, wait as long as I need to, but I do it!
WHAT DRIVES YOU? WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES? WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?
What drives me is my passion for life and for my work; knowing that I am doing something good and the feeling of having accomplished something when I look back and see that I succeeded in reaching my goals.
My values are respect, education, sincerity and honesty. I can keep my values without changing my life, just doing my best to be happy.
The capacity of fighting for life with the focus on a better world for everyone makes me happy, when I am doing my job and other people have the opportunity to get to know what I do; I think it is very important to share our knowledge.