Our Volunteers: From Madeira to MyHeritage


Born on the island of Madeira (Portugal) in 1954, Vasco Gonçalves de Andrade moved to Lisbon in 1976 to work and to study psychology. He holds a degree in social and organizational psychology.

Married, he has two daughters in Lisbon. The older is a TV reporter, and the younger is a landscape architect.

After many years of working for two large companies in Lisbon and in Funchal (where he has lived for 16 years), he took early retirement due to illness.

Today, Vasco is a volunteer for the Portuguese Red Cross, where he can help people and work for a good cause. He has also been a volunteer translator of Portuguese for MyHeritage, since 2012.

It was so long ago that I don’t remember if I was asked to help or if I proposed to help.  It has been a great experience! Since I enjoy genealogy and also like to practice my English, this has been a dual-goal job. I’ve also made friends on the MyHeritage team.

Knowing that there are many Portuguese users who expect a functional and quality family site and software, I do my best in this job. Translation is an extremely important factor in assessing the quality of MyHeritage’s products. I like being able to help people!

In his free time, he plays tennis and paddle-tennis (padel) with his wife and friends. For those unfamiliar with padel, it is a mix of tennis and squash, played with paddles (not stringed racquets). Of course, he also helps MyHeritage as an English-Portuguese translator.

I have explored some hobbies to fill my free time, and I decided to begin a family tree as a legacy for my daughters. My family has several branches living on the Portuguese mainland, as well as in the islands and also abroad, such as in several US states.

Vasco's hometown (Funchal), and also his birthplace.

His paternal Gonçalves de Andrade and maternal Fernandes branches originate on Madeira, but some relatives began emigrating in the mid-1800s (to British Guyana) and in the early-1900s (to Brazil and the US), so he has family living today in several countries.

My parents told me about long-lost relatives who had emigrated decades and decades ago to Brazil and the US, but I have never met many of them.

Vasco's parents - Vasco and Maria Zoe, 1958.

Vasco did learn some interesting things about his great-grandmother.

My great-grandmother lived in Demerara, British Guyana. She married again after the death of her first husband, José Fernandes Rosa, but she died one year later. Her second husband was an English mining engineer. After her death, he visited my great-grandparents on Madeira, probably to find out if there was any inheritance. He then met another Portuguese woman and married again on Madeira.

His daughters find his research very interesting, and they have asked questions about the relationships of some people in the tree.

There are many living relatives whom they have not yet met, so there is some expectation about a future family reunion. That hasn’t happened yet for several reasons, such as geographic distance.

His wife, he says, understands his curiosity about his family history.

I think she enjoys receiving those emails reminding us about everyone’s birthdays. She tries to understand the time I spend working on my family tree!

He needed a good software program to gather all the information about his family and to create a closer connection between all living family members and found it on MyHeritage.

I needed to allow online input from everyone who cares about our family history, so I chose MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder.

Currently, his tree has 1,525 people.

Vasco's 61st birthday, October 2015. From left: Inês (Vasco's eldest daughter), Vasco, Graça (his wife); Frederico (Mariana's boyfriend) and Mariana (his youngest daughter).

He enjoys the Family Tree Builder software, as well as those features which are always automatically searching even when we are not online, such as Smart Matches and Record Matches.

MyHeritage has been very useful to research, discover and match people! The living family in the USA has become much closer, and they also enjoy knowing about and understanding their origins.

Vasco’s tips for those just beginning their genealogical journey:

  • If you have free time, and you truly enjoy this hobby, go ahead!
  • I must warn you that this is extremely meticulous work, so don’t rush!
  • There’s a lot to learn about genealogy and also about English translations. It is a job that you learn as you develop skills.

Did you enjoy Vasco’s story? Please share your comments below.

Do you have a story to tell? Email it to stories@myheritage.com.

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  • Jennifer Warren

    September 12, 2016

    How exciting to have someone from Madiera! My aunt’s relatives came from there, as Protestants, eventually settling in the US in Illinois. It is so interesting to find all the stories from our ancestors’ past.

  • Lelia Dowd

    September 13, 2016

    I enjoyed your story very much. Madeira is a beautiful place.