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Daughter of the motherland

Monday, July 21, 2014
Aurora Herrera taking a wide NGO interest in a piton. Photo: Jason Brereton

My name is Aurora Herrera and I’m trying to build a co-operative network of environmental NGOs to share knowledge, experience and expertise.


I’ve asked my mum why I was named, “Aurora” and she simply says it’s a name she always loved. However, her name is Heather-Dawn and “Aurora” means “morning light;” so I have a healthy suspicion she named me after her.


Herrera is spelt “-era” not “-eira.” Therefore it’s Spanish, not Portuguese.


My favourite childhood memories are from my grandmother’s house in Cascade so I suppose that’s where I “come from.” I live in Santa Cruz now.


My mother is an only child. I have no cousins on her side. My father’s family consisted of six brothers and two sisters. I tried to tally the number of cousins. After I passed 100 I stopped counting. My parents are divorced and I grew up, for the most part, with my mother. I’m very career-driven and a family of my own is not a priority now.



I LOVED St Monica’s Primary School!


My father is Hindu and my mother is Anglican. I was baptised Anglican but attended Catholic schools. I’ll go to any religious service I’m invited to, but I don’t believe in god in the usual way church dogma demands. I do not subscribe to any organised religion.


There’s a really good quote from Stanley Kubrick to describe how I feel about the suffering of the world. “The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent. But if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death—however mutable man may be able to make them—our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” 


I think humans need to rely upon themselves.


I try not to worry about whether there’s an afterlife. If there is, there is no need to worry. If there isn’t, then well, we wouldn’t need to worry because we would never know and it wouldn’t make a difference.


I spent my early childhood in the ‘bush’ of the Northern, Central and Southern Ranges of Trinidad. My mother is an environmentalist, so I grew up exploring the most secret places on the island. During my adolescence, my mother and I took off to Venezuela to discover all of that country’s natural treasures while learning about our family culture. I went to the University of Toronto and then travelled throughout Canada, the US and South and Central America.


I usually say I don’t have a favourite colour because I don’t like to discriminate against the other colours in the palette. But, if I were to be completely honest, I’d say yellow. Most of my close friends call me “little sunshine” so I suppose it’s apt. 


My first relaxation choice is sleeping. I’m so busy all the time that when I get a chance to switch off, I do.


My ideal evening out would be an art show or a play. For a weekend off, I’d like to find myself backpacking in a jungle somewhere.


In my world, reading and breathing are synonymous. I read everything. The best book I ever read was Cien Años de Soledad. By my favourite writer, Gabriel García Márquez.


The Environmental Network of Trinidad and Tobago is really my Mom’s idea. I’ve become involved by virtue of being her daughter. It’s in its baby stages. We would like to form a more coherent network amongst the different environmental groups and create an online platform for knowledge-sharing. If other NGOs support us with knowledge-sharing and perhaps volunteers, that would make things go faster.  


The worst thing about setting up the Environmental Network is you hear and see a lot of horror stories about animals, deforestation, the destruction of watersheds, the loss of natural habitats and, consequently, certain species. The best things are I have been privileged to see the most beautiful parts of Trinidad and Tobago and to have a great environmentalist like my Mum behind this project.


When I’m away, I miss the smell of the earth after it rains. The sight of the Northern Range along the highway. The trees, the waterfalls, the beaches. Most of all I miss my loved ones. 


A Trini is me. 


T&T is one of the many places that mean home to me. 



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