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Olga Kos

Our positive woman is known for her personal and professional discretion. Olga Kos is a pediatrician by training, a wife, a mother of two children, and a grandmother of three grandchildren, one of whom is diagnosed with autism. She gives her name to the institute that for more than 15 years has been serving people with disabilities and those in vulnerable situations with artistic, sports, and scientific projects. "Having an institute that bears my name triples the size of my responsibility. The commitment to the beneficiaries quadruples my effort," she says. "When I read the testimony of an Olga Kos beneficiary, I encounter a new achievement. There are almost 5,000 participant stories over these 15 years. I find my true motivation in these testimonies."



1. How did your career start? I am a trained pediatrician. I worked in the public health system. I used to travel by bus, always carrying supplies and medications I collected to distribute to the most needy. I witnessed all kinds of needs and vulnerabilities. Perhaps it was during this time that I awakened to the third sector.


2. How is the business model of the Olga Kos Institute structured? For over 15 years, Olga Kos has been serving people with disabilities and in socially vulnerable situations. We offer sports and artistic activities. We also have a scientific part, which involves research that provides tools for public managers to better think about public policies. Annually, Olga Kos brings almost 18,000 people to the Ibirapuera Park Obelisk for the cause of inclusion. This year's Olga Kos Race and Walk will take place on March 19, in reference to International Down Syndrome Day, celebrated on March 21.


3. What was the most challenging moment of your career? Olga Kos was born from a difficult moment, we can define it that way. My husband had a health issue, was hospitalized for a year, and was watching a new soap opera that had a character with Down syndrome. We decided that if he survived this situation, we would dedicate ourselves to this cause. It was a transformative experience that marked our lives and gave rise to the institute. Today I can say confidently: Olga Kos is everything to me. In this context, we were transformed by a moment of difficulty, significantly, and all other challenges are treated as a channel of transformation.


4. How do you balance your personal and corporate/entrepreneurial life? The dynamics of the third sector involve a lot of dedication and effort. Having an institute that bears my name triples the size of my responsibility. The commitment to the beneficiaries quadruples my effort. Since it is a job I love to do, in the case of Olga Kos, which involves an important and necessary social cause, I can balance the two “sides” without major conflicts. This is a bonus of old age: I have two already adult children, which allows for more intense activity in favor of the institute. I have grandchildren, including one who is autistic, and I can engage them in the races and walks we hold annually for inclusion. The institute is everything to me, that is, personal and work life go harmoniously and balanced, after all, every opportunity to integrate friends, family, and raise awareness among people, in general, is the exercise of my work and, at the same time, my mission as a human being.


5. What is your biggest dream? My biggest dream is to see social inclusion occurring naturally in all possible environments. In all our homes, in companies, schools, in leisure spaces, etc. This is actually a common "desire", it shouldn't even be a "dream". But since we still have a lot to advance, we have been working at Olga Kos to make this "dream" come true as soon as possible.


6. What is your greatest achievement? When I read the testimony of an Olga Kos beneficiary, I encounter a new achievement. There are almost 5,000 participant stories over these 15 years. I find my true motivation in these testimonies. And, with each new testimony, I understand that I live a new and greater achievement. Knowing that a young person who suffered bullying, consequently stopped speaking, and lost the pleasure of socializing but regained these stimuli in our workshops is an achievement. Knowing that this participant regained the pleasure of socialization through our projects is a stimulus for us. Knowing that due to the father's death, a person with cerebral palsy lost all sports and cultural activities due to financial issues, but with our work, we managed to fill this absence is an achievement. Knowing that we have a participant with Down syndrome who has her own income, is a taekwondo instructor, and developed this process of autonomy at Olga Kos is an achievement. There are many achievements, immeasurable and incomparable.


7. Book, movie, and woman you admire. In this case, I will mention the series "Fauda", which I recently watched. I liked it because it shows the strategies and suspense that exist between two peoples who have been in conflict for years: Israelis and Palestinians. It is a difficult topic to address. I read about the series and learned that it is based on real experiences lived by the director and protagonist Lior Raz. Besides, the co-author of the series has in-depth knowledge: it is political journalist Avi Issacharoff, who has been covering conflicts in the Middle East for over 20 years. The series also addresses cultural, romantic (the love between an Israeli and an Arab), social themes, among others that show, albeit fictionally, points of real life that deserve to be discussed. A movie I loved, love, and will always love is "Cinema Paradiso". It shows the friendship, love, and respect between a man and a boy that is moving and affectionate. It always moves me. The book I found most interesting was "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas", which tells a story of friendship between two boys, one from the concentration camp and the other the son of the camp commander. How a cruel story can occur within a cruel time and hurt the oppressor's side just as much. The woman: I admire many, all those who fought for a better, fairer, more humane, more egalitarian, and more inclusive society. May life be worth living!

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