Vanessa Sequeira's net

Words for Vanessa

A life so rich

a tribute to Vanessa from Lee, a version of which he also read at her funeral in Sobrainho and at the missa do sÚtimo dia in Estoril

Dear friends and colleagues,

This is my good friend Vanessa Annabel Schaffer Sequeira. I met Vanessa at the end of 2004 in Bangor, and up until a few weeks ago I shared a small wooden house with her in Brazil while I did my research there. We worked together in the Amazon, and we spent countless hours conversing on the varandas of various houses, and sitting on the edge of the river in the depths of the forest, under skies so full of stars it seemed like we had left the earth and were sitting in space.

We talked in depth about life, the environment, society, politics, love and just about everything else imaginable. Other times we would sit together in silence, smoke our cigarettes and mutually appreciate immersion in the sounds of the forest and the world around us, not having to say a word to each other, and always being aware of what the other was thinking, both of us just appreciating the joy of life, the silence, the peace and simply being alive. We became close friend, and developed a strong bond due to the similarities and the differences that we had. She was a beautiful woman full of conviction, dynamism, courage, a profound sense of social justice and a deep love of the environment and the people in it, and in short, she was one of the rarest, most inspirational and special women one could hope to meet.

I told her often that she was an enigma, because she was such a unique, beautiful and mysterious blend of all of the stuff of life; darkness and light, tranquillity and chaos, femininity and depth, and above all, an embodiment of altruism and a powerful force in the life of everyone who knew her.

On Sunday September 3rd, Vanessa was raped, strangled and beaten to death in a small agro-extractive reserve in the state of Acre, Brazil.

On Thursday we buried her in the cemetery of the tiny village of Sobrainho dos Gaios, a place which she had so often talked about, and which she had dreamed of returning to one day. The view over the golden hills and olive groves of Portugal is breathtaking.

The enormous crowd which turned out came from many parts of the world, and only the total absence of time to prepare and plan journies prevented so many more from coming. Despite this, the mobilisation of the many who did was an outstanding credit to her life, and a reminder of the effect she had in the lives of others. Memorial ideas are being talked about from Brazil to Bali , and from Nepal to Peru , and while she has returned home to the land she so dearly loved, countless people around the world are mourning the loss of a true friend and an exceptional human being.

Vanessa was indeed an enigma, had achieved so much, was an inspiration to so many, and had a life so worth celebrating that I wanted to let everybody know it.

When you read this, grasp that ball in your stomach and use it to compell you to pursue a greater justice in this world. Vanessa had devoted her life to it, and I for one will never cease to be inspired by that courage and dedication, or feel such pride to have known such an awesome woman.

Ness, you will always be with us, and your legacy will outlive any of us

published at Rede Reservas extrativistas (Sept. 9, 2006)

Portuguese version with comments at blog do Altino

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