Interview: Clara Galvao – Charity Worker & World Citizen

Introduction

My next interview is with Clara Galvao.

I have personally met Clara a number of times in person and it didn’t take me long to realise Clara’s exceptionally strong resilience to life’s challenges.

You will understand this from her interview and story.

Having worked for Charities and lived in some remote and tough environments, Clara believes her “calling” is to serve others.

Here you will see her own FIRE journey to date which moulds nicely into the background.

Personally, I believe the FIRE movement is applicable to absolutely anyone and the “real good” is in serving others and a desire to do good and affect other’s positively. This interview really stood out to me and Clara’s WHY is crystal clear..

I asked the exact same 3 key interview questions to Clara and the full Q & A is here for you to read, enjoy..

 

Who are you and how did you discover FIRE?

My name is Clara Galvao, born in Brazil, yet I consider myself a citizen of the world.
I believed I had a “calling” to serve the poor and the needy.

At 15 I left home and joined a youth ministry organization in Brazil where I volunteered in several projects providing education for orphans in Brasilia. At 18 I managed to secure enough funds to head to Africa and worked as a volunteer in Mozambique during the floods of 2000. I developed a puppet and clown entertainment show for children and went to very remote villages teaching the basics of hygiene to help prevent Malaria and waterborne diseases.

My work within several charities over the years turned into a career. I had the privilege to live and work in Iceland, Italy and the UK. Up until very recently, I headed the fundraising efforts to benefit of international needs, including the Syrian refugees and establishing the health clinics for the treatment of Tuberculosis in Somalia.

My priority had never been to think much of my financial future. I find it strange to even write this fact, and although the life of a fundraiser is very much that of savings and frugality, the aspect of investment and increase of earnings was not a priority for me at the time.

Most of my work within charities, although delivered at a high professional standard, was also not well paid and even though I had climbed that career “ladder” in the UK for over a decade I was still not much further in increasing my finances.

Some life events also pressured my “wallet”. I became a single parent of 3 boys and had no financial support, I still rented, and had limited savings. In 2019 I decided to change careers and moved closer to family in Ireland. I met the FIRE movement shortly after and attended my first meeting in Limerick.

 

What is the backdrop of your fire strategy?

To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed with the world of investments, during my first FIRE meeting I felt very much “behind” as most speakers revealed their strategy and were quite eloquent as they spoke of their stocks and investment portfolios. I have not met any single parent, such as myself, trying to achieve FIRE whilst raising a family alone and not having any inheritance or pension to look forward to. In any case, I believe this challenge has been motivating me.

I learned to save at an early stage in life and have been disciplined to never borrow, as such, I have no debts and managed to have emergency funds set aside. I have also paid into a pension for a few years and intend to continue to do so once I am employed again. The pandemic led me to lose my job, which is unfortunate, however it meant I can continue to put in motion my strategy of changing careers, so I am studying for an MSc in International Business Global Management and have paid for the course upfront.

I have begun investing through DEGIRO and have learned much about stocks and shares since being in touch with the FIRE movement.

My goal is to live off my investments. The next step is to secure 2 properties, one to live in and one to rent out, I’m now working on my savings for my first deposit. I also plan to finish writing and publish my book. Apart from this, I do want to mention that my FIRE strategy incorporates my philosophy for life. I believe we must not lose sight of enjoying every moment to the full with those who matter to us.

In Italy I took a sabbatical with my then young family and lived in a camper for 6 months travelling through Italy’s coast, reaching Sicily and the islands beyond. Since then, I realised that small pockets of time for enjoyment needed to be a part of my lives journey, in short, I have managed to continue to travel and share these amazing experiences from time to time.

I do not want to wait for retirement to enjoy life, and so, I make time to responsibly enjoy it now in a balanced way.

What do you plan to do once you reach FIRE?

My passion continues to be to serve others. I have a goal to support single parents in some way, whether it is forming a single parent support community or through providing financial guidance so they too can achieve their goals. I will always travel, and have a long list of places to reach, from Bora-Bora to the Arab World.

I want to taste all kinds of culinary and learn how to say hello and good-bye in the local way of every place I visit. Staying fit and continue to dance is part of the plan. I also plan to invest abroad and base myself in a warm country, and of course, continue to invest wisely.

Thankyou Clara for sharing your own story.

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