Although my age and the work I do (with indigenous people in the state of Ceará, Northeast of Brazil) are not typical compared to the majority of  Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs, it was an important opportunity because it allowed me to glimpse this fertile soil. In fact, although being 80 years old could have been a barrier in the decision of approving me as an Ashoka Fellow, this organization showed a very non-exclusive and flexible selection, which is rare nowadays. These adjectives become stronger if we take into account the polemic attached to the resistance of indigenous people in Brazil’s Northeast to the delimitation of their traditional lands. 

The trip to São Paulo in December of 2007 for the interviews in the final stage of the selection allowed us to make the most of our experience and also created an amazing interaction among all of us. The interviews were way beyond our expectations because it was based on sharing our experiences, which made me feel completely happy and comfortable. 

I met other Ashoka Fellows and heard wise speeches that were really worthwhile in forming our understanding about education and dealing with children. All these moments of solidarity and fraternity since i joined the Fellowship made the experience worthwhile. And a real delight! 


Translation by Sarah Capecci.


This article was originally published on 6 February 2012
Related TopicsSocial enterprise, Business & Social Enterprise, Social Entrepreneurship

Maria Amelia Leite
Founder of Associação Missão Tremembé and an Ashoka Fellow from Brazil since 2008.

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