"My biggest dream is to see our children go through college and choose their own careers"
As the founder of Associação para o Desenvolvimento das Mulheres Ciganas Portuguesas (the Association for the Development of Portuguese Gipsy Women) or AMUCIP, Olga Mariano is a Portuguese Romani woman of great courage and conviction.
Based in Seixal, across the river from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, Olga worked as a street trader along with her husband who she married at the age of 22. However, her husband became gravely ill and their business came to a halt so that she could give him the necessary care. After Olga's husband died, she had to look for a new living to feed her family.
After taking a vocational training course in schools, and soon she was starting up AMUCIP with four other Romani women. The aim of their work was to bring together Roma and non-Roma kids, promoting inclusion and never exclusion, attempting to reduce school absenteeism and also to reconcile the family and working lives of Romani women.
Olga recalled: "It wasn't easy, and it still isn't, but we kept our unity."