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Helena Spiritus ist eine Biologin und leidenschaftliche Umweltschützerin aus Brasilien. Sie arbeitet als Investigativkampaignerin bei Greenpeace und ist am liebsten auf einem Schiff unterwegs. Denn dort hat sie schon so einige spannende und wunderbare Geschichten erlebt, ob in der Antarktis oder auf dem Amazonas. Helena lernt Deutsch, über ihren Weg zu Greenpeace spricht sie lieber auf Englisch. 

What made you work for Greenpeace?

„The main reason why I joined Greenpeace is that I wanted to make a difference. Before, I could see a difference, too, but it was very biased because, for example, it had to make financial sense to the company. That was very frustrating to me. I was born in a small city in the countryside of Brazil and I saved a lot of money to go and study for my master‘s degree in the UK. I worked there for three years, but then went back to Brazil because of my family. I was looking for a job and was contacted by a big mining company. They wanted someone who was working with sustainability and biodiversity, because they had some projects trying to use their money in a sustainable way. It was important for me to see that even these big companies are trying to do something good for the environment. But after a year and a half, I realized that this is not the work I want to be doing.  Then I joined Greenpeace Brazil and I have to say, it’s a completely different environment to work in, especially if you come from a big company. It’s so refreshing how people see things and how they interact with each other. Of course, as an biologist, I already loved Greenpeace for the work they are doing - that’s why I decided to join - but I had no idea what it would be like to actually work there. Greenpeace is doing so much strategic and in depths work that you often don’t see so much from the outside. Especially if you only look at the actions, you often don’t see all the work that goes into it.“

Is there a special event or experince during your time with Greenpeace that you will always remember? 

„To me, my best experience was on board of a Greenpeace ship. I went to the Antarctic two years ago and that was already amazing, but even better was a trip to the Amazon when I was in Brazil. We were trying to find a reef that had just been discovered. It was located at the mouth of the Amazon river. Normally, reefs are close to the surface, but this one is around 200 meters deep. Scientists were still trying to map it and to identifiy the species. The oil companies were claiming that it was just ‚a small thing‘, but we went there to find out how big the formation really was. And even though we lost a drop down camera, this didn’t stop us, we built a new one using a GoPro and when we dropped it into the water, we could see the reef formation. It was such a special moment! We felt like we found a treasure. No one had seen this before, we were the first people to lay eyes on it. It was so magical, all the scientists were cheering. I will remember this for the rest of my life! And without Greenpeace, this would have been impossible because funding for such explorations is very limited in Brazil. We helped with this very important research.“ 

What is your view on diversity at Greenpeace?

Helena: „I moved to Greenpeace Germany without speaking the language. I know how hard it is for immigrants to find a workplace, it’s so daunting and really scary to be honest. Now I am learning German, but the good thing about Greenpeace is that it‘s such an international organization, so it‘s possible to find a diverse team and do meaningful work without speaking German. In many cases immigrants don’t move somewhere because they want to but because they have to. It’s so important to know that you can find a place to do great work even though you don’t speak the language yet. In order to have diversity, you have to have inclusion, so I hope that in the future, other languages will become even more important at Greenpeace. I know it’s a lot to ask of people, to speak a different language in their own country, but I think in order to be more diverse, you have to be more inclusive. Greenpeace Germany is working towards that and I think that’s great! Coming to Germany, it was important for me to see other immigrants like me who made it and suceeded in their workplace, so I hope I can be that example for others as well.“