People of Peru Project was founded by Paul Opp, of Washington state, in 2004 with the vision of helping the impoverished people in Iquitos, Peru, a city of more than 700,000 people in the Amazon Basin.
In March of 2000, Paul went to Iquitos, with his daughter on a school trip and was overwhelmed by the poverty and suffering.
Paul continued to operate his family business while beginning the foundational work of People of Peru Project. In January of 2004, he closed his businesses back home and entered into this work on a full-time basis.
Since then, People of Peru Project has worked to provide dental and medical care, as well as create a residential facility for abandoned and abused girls or those who suffer from extreme poverty. People of Peru Project Youth Services House (POPPYS House) has been a refuge for hundreds of girls over the last 19 years.
People of Peru Project provides housing, emergency food and water filter systems, to those in need, while working to preserve the Peruvian culture and environment.
"We are not trying to change this amazing culture but instead strive to create a better future for the impoverished people within the Amazon Basin."
Medical care, crisis intervention and education, create long-term change for future generations.
Join us, in our commitment to make the world a better place one person at a time.
Meet the Team
Our organization couldn't exist without the tireless work of our dedicated team both in the United States and in Peru.
Paul graduated from Walla Walla College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Youth Services Leadership. He served as a youth pastor and taught classes from religion to health education. He was a school administrator in a variety of educational settings, ranging from private Christian schools to the Florida, juvenile prison system. For fifteen years Paul was self- employed, owning several different businesses in Washington State.
Executive Director, Peru
Leovina has been passionate about the organization since its inception, in March of 2000. "Leo" started as a helper and worked her way up to volunteer, translator, chief translator and logistics coordinator, then campus director and child psychologist. In October of 2014, Leovina assumed the role of board member and Executive Director of People of Peru Project Centro Comunitario, the boots on the ground entity in Peru and is currently pursuing her degree in Business Administration.
Dr. Benjamin Perez & Dr. Karen Abhrill Rojas
Dr. Perez and Dr Rojas head up our full time dental program and have a passion for community oral health. The local students love them and their lively educational presentations. Through their work with People of Peru Project, they have earned the respect of their colleagues and won the confidence of their patients. And yes, they are married.
Medical Program Director
Camilla is from Panguana village in the Amazon, several hours by riverboat from Iquitos. She has been employed as a full-time nurse for the organization since June of 2004. Camila organizes the medical campaigns for our hundreds of volunteer groups, does all the medicine acquisitions and coordinates with the local medical institutions for the medical care and follow up of the patients we serve. Camila also functions in the community in the role of social services advocate in the educational sponsorship program, as a liaison between teachers, our organization, and impoverished students.
Family Education Director
Yovana Ordóñez Pimentel
Yovana is the family education director for our Next Generation Mentorship Program. She has been instrumental in the creation of this program and is responsible for identifying, recruiting and retaining impoverished children from 10 families in their educational process, while working with the parents and teachers in her community, to asses their specific needs. As a remote employee of the organization she allocates the recourses necessary to reach positive educational outcomes for children who need assistance. Nobody knows better the value of this assistance than one who received it herself. Yovana will ultimately direct other graduates from the People of Peru Project educational programs who will, in tern, mentor 10 students in their communities. This impact will happen hundreds of times over as "our girls" pay it forward and break the chains of poverty.
Food Service Director
Aurelita is in charge of the food service program at the Headquarter facility. Her role is to plan menus and make sure everyone is fed, which can be quite a job when volunteer groups are here. More importantly, she teaches and mentors the girls in our program in and out of the kitchen as their own mother should. Each university girl has "kitchen duty" and Aurelia makes sure that they have a meaningful experience while learning to cook.
Ryan is a long-term resident of Iquitos with a Peruvian wife and four children. He serves as plant manager, head of the maintenance department, materials acquisitions and grounds. His ability to build and repair has been a huge boost to keeping both campuses running smoothly. Volunteer teams are at ease knowing that Ryan has the know-how and ability to procure the tools and materials that are needed for their particular projects. Having an in-house maestro just makes sense, and Ryan is that guy.
Long-term volunteer and resident PoPP blogger Juliana contributes to our organization in a multitude of ways. Whether she is working directly with the girls at POPPYS House, or writing her beautiful blog posts and serving as our in-house photographer, her addition to People of Peru Project is welcomed and loved.
Sandi is the Secretary Treasure of People of Peru Project, US and manages the office in Walla Walla, Washington. She has a passion for the children in Peru that is equaled only by the love she has for her four adult daughters and seven grandchildren. Sandi and Paul have been married for 39 years and this project would not be possible if it were not for the willing sacrifices Sandi has made over the last 19 years.
Directors, POPPYS House
Ryan and Rosany Haberly
Ryan has been a long-term volunteer for People of Peru Project for the last six-plus years and the leadership position at POPPYS house has been his goal since the beginning. Though Ryan functions in many capacities for the organization, his passion has always been the kids in our care. Rosany, a native of Peru, finished her nursing program, in Iquitos in December of 2016. This, along with her long relationship with the organization, has put her in a unique position to understand the struggles that our girls face.
Lawyer and Grant Management
Ysabel Lonazco was born and raised in Callao, Peru. In 2011, she graduated from the University Inca Garcilaso De La Vega with a degree in Law and Political Science, during which time she volunteered with People of Peru Project. In 2015, she graduated from Salt Lake Community College with an AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies. In 2018, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a Master in Comparative Law. In 2019, she was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar Association. She is fluent in English, and French. Ysabel has worked in the legal field of criminal law and immigration law and is passionate about immigration law as an immigrant herself. She is an immigrant who risked everything to go to the United States, and she was willing to work hard, leave her beloved Peru, to make her American Dream come true. People of Peru Project is proud to have Ysabel Lonazco as the attorney for the organization. Ysabel joined People of Peru Project in 2019 as the organization’s attorney.
Randy Rengifo Vasques (Big Randy)
Randy serves as our Program Analyst. He is responsible for collecting all of the vital information about how our projects serve the people of Iquitos and the wider community.
Water Filtration/Community Engagement/Chaplain
Long-term volunteer Michael hails from Boise Idaho and serves as our Campus Chaplain, as well as engages the local community and assists with water filtration installation in Iquitos.
Student Director of Water Filtration
Damaris Trujillo Lancha
Damaris is in charge of the Water Filtration and Community Engagement program in Iquitos. She works closely with our volunteers, visitors and the local community.
Rosa is our in-house tutor for all of the girls who currently reside at POPPYS House in Iquitos. She assists in helping the girls fulfill their educational needs.
Co-Chief Impact Officer
A native of the UK, Emily joined People of Peru Project in 2023 to assist with all things web design, social media and marketing. Emily is an experienced social media manager, website designer and photographer. She has a Bachelors of Arts (Honors) from the University of London and is a trained labour Doula. Besides managing social media and marketing projects, Emily is currently training to become a midwife.