Educación para niños en los barrios más pobres de Lima. Leonie lo esta haciendo.
 
 

Leonie van Iersel es la fundadora de Con Pazion, una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a ofrecer educación holística para niños en los barrios mas pobres de Lima. Esta es la historia de como una mujer Holandesa encontró su pasion.

Este blog es la traducción en Español de una entrevista realizada por Ceciel Huls en De Wereldwijven, un diario en línea que comparte historias inspiradoras de mujeres holandés fuertes que viven alrededor del mundo. Ver el artículo original aquí.


Me acuerdo nuestro primer encuentro como si fuese ayer, parada en su pequeño departamento recién salida del avión. Jimmie, su gato que vino con ella desde Holanda, dio vueltas alrededor de sus piernas. Sus maletas ya estaban desempacadas. Leonie estaba emocionada con su nueva vida en Lima. Vino aquí para dar clases en el colegio holandés.

Ha pasado casi un año y todavía da clases, pero no solamente a los niños holandeses en Lima. Leonie van Iersel es la fundadora de Con Pazion, una fundación que se dedica a ofrecer educación holística a los niños de los barrios más pobres de Lima. La fundación  existe hace muy poco, pero crece rápidamente y recibe mucha atención en las redes sociales. ‘Es abrumante’, dice Leonie varias veces durante nuestra entrevista.

Un sueno hecho realidad

Leonie trajo a Lima una pasión por la educación y encuentra una gran motivación en cambiar las vidas de los niños. Para eso dejó atrás todo lo que tenía en Holanda: un trabajo interesante en un colegio en Utrecht, familia y amigos. ¿Cómo llegas a decidir hacer un cambio tan grande? Hace dos años Leonie viajó por un mes a Nicaragua. Un viaje para reflexionar sobre su vida. Llevó solamente un cuaderno, su mat de yoga y su tabla para correr olas. Allá, en un país –como en el Perú- donde todavía hay mucho por mejorar, decidió hacer realidad su sueño de toda la vida: apoyar a niños vulnerables a través de sus dos pasiones, la educación y el yoga.

De vuelta en Holanda, Leonie empezó a aplicarlo en su trabajo en el colegio en Utrecht. Integró clases de yoga en las actividades del colegio lo que ayudo a que los alumnos sean más resilientes. Una hernia de disco en el cuello que devino en una cirugía invasiva, paró la vida de Leonie abruptamente. Y la llevaron a una nueva reflexión: ‘Si me muero ahora, ¿es esto lo que quiero dejar como mi legado?’

A Lima: Una gran brecha entre los pobres y los ricos

Justo en este momento, ‘De Lama’ (La Llama) -el colegio de idioma y cultura holandés en Lima- buscaba un nuevo profesor. Leonie se postuló para el puesto, la contrataron y cuatro meses después -ya casi totalmente recuperada de su operación- subió al avión. Las primeras semanas en Lima le fueron muy difíciles. El contraste entre los pobres y los  ricos le chocaron. Ella sabía que tenía que hacer algo al respecto. Leonie pidió a la vecina, quien está involucrada en varios proyectos sociales en los barrios pobres, de llevarla a Manchay. Allí, la vecina trabajaba en un proyecto para apoyar a los niños con clases de matemática, escritura y lectura. ‘En realidad nunca más me fui de allí’, concluye Leonie.

Manchay

Desde su primera visita a Manchay, Leonie hizo algo que muchos no se atreven hacer. Salió de la calle principal y se metió por los caminitos entrando en las casas de la gente donde familias enteras viven en unos cuantos metros cuadrados. Donde adultos y niños comparten dos camas. Donde no hay agua potable ni electricidad. Donde madres –los padres muchas veces abandonaron sus familias- tienen que luchar tanto por su supervivencia que no tienen tiempo ni energía para ordenar o limpiar su casa. Pozos en el suelo sirven como baños. Niños muestran señales de descuido y desnutrición. Barrigas hinchadas, dentadura deteriorada, infecciones de la piel sin tratamiento, narices rotas. Las consecuencias de la pobreza.

 
the children in Manchay doing yoga
 

Clases de Yoga para los niños de Manchay

El nivel de la educación pública en Perú en muchos casos es precario. Eso explica la gran cantidad de colegios privados y caros en Lima. La educación que reciben los niños en Manchay es lamentable. Un niño puede estar un día entero en su salón doblando papel porque no tiene lapicero para escribir y el profesor no le dice nada. Los niños no aprenden nada en colegio y las circunstancias en la casa son tan malas que tampoco reciben motivación de sus padres para estudiar. La enorme brecha entre las clases sociales nunca se va reducir si los niños de barrios como Manchay no reciben oportunidades. Leonie quiere cambiar esto. Como voluntaria rápidamente empezó a dar clases de inglés y de yoga en dos colegios. Los niños reaccionaron con mucho entusiasmo. Se entregan al cariño y atención que Leonie les ofrece buscando su balance en las poses de yoga. ‘La risa de un niño que es tratado con cariño y atención, que crezca y se desarrolla ¡es invaluable!’.

Con Pazion

Leonie apunta a un cambio sostenible. La meta de Con Pazion es abrir un colegio holístico en Manchay. Y quien sabe, siguen más colegios. Colegios donde los niños aprenden a leer, escribir, matemáticas y aprenden sobre higiene personal, el mundo a su alrededor, empatía. Donde yoga es parte del curriculum. Donde estos niños sean física y mentalmente más resilientes. Para que cuando sean grandes puedan dar un aporte positivo a su comunidad. Leonie lo llama yoga con el mat y sin el mat. Leonie se comunica con sus seguidores a través del sitio web de Con Pazion, Instagram y Facebook.

Yoga with Adriene y Adidas

Una famosa instructora de yoga e inspiradora, Adriene de Yoga with Adriene, puso Leonie en contacto con cientos de personas alrededor del mundo. Fue a través de Adriene que Leonie llegó a contactar a Adidas. Gracias a una donación de Adidas Con Pazion se lanzó. Ahora varias personas se han sentido inspirados por el lema de Leonie #bethechange y han ofrecido su apoyo. Con su equipo de yoga Leonie ofrece clases y con su equipo de educación y con el apoyo de uno de esos colegios privados y caros, esta trabajando en la fundación de su primer colegio.


¿Quieres ser parte del cambio? Considere donar a Con Pazion.Sus donaciones financian nuestros programas de yoga y nos ayudan a propagación más amor y conciencia como enseñar yoga y avanzar en la apertura de nuestra escuela.

 

 

Children in the slums of Lima need Education. Leonie is making education happen.
 
Leonie and the children doing yoga
 

Leonie van Iersel is the founder of Con Pazion, a foundation that focuses on offering holistic education for children in the slums of Lima. This is the story about a Dutch woman finding her passion.

This blog is the English translation of an interview done by Ceciel Huls on De Wereldwijven, an online journal that shares inspiring stories of strong Dutch women living around the globe. View the original article here


I can perfectly recall our first meeting. She was standing in her small apartment, freshly off the plane. Jimmie, her Dutch cat that traveled to Peru with her, was scurrying around her legs. Her bags were already unpacked.  Leonie was ready to go start her new life in Lima teaching at a Dutch school. A year has passed since that day and she is still teaching, but not just at the Dutch school. Leonie van Iersel is the founder and director of Con Pazion, a non-profit organization that focuses on offering holistic-based education to the children in the slums of Lima. The non-profit is just a few months old, but it is rapidly growing and getting a lot of attention on social media. “It’s overwhelming,” Leonie will say several times throughout the interview.

A long cherished dream

Passion for education and making a difference in the lives of children brought Leonie here. It’s why she left everything she had in the Netherlands, including a great job as a vice principal at the Luzac College in Utrecht, family, and friends. What makes you cut ties like that? Two years ago Leonie went to Nicaragua for two months to reflect and take a critical look at her life. She had all she needed: a notebook, a yoga mat and a surf board. There in a country that---much like Peru---is still in development, she decided to put her dream in motion. She wanted to help children in vulnerable positions though her own two passions: education and yoga. Back in the Netherlands, she started putting this in motion at the Luzac. She integrated yoga into the school’s curriculum and helped the students trust and rely on their inner strength. But the, a herniated disc in her neck and the necessary surgery brought Leonie to a standstill. Again, she had time to reflect, “If I die now, is this the legacy I want to leave behind?”

Lima, a huge gap between rich and poor.

At that exact time, De Lama, the Dutch language and cultural school in Lima, was looking for a new teacher. Leonie found this job opening, wrote the email, and was hired. Four months later, fairly recovered from her herniated disc, she got on a plane. The first weeks in Lima were rough. The enormous contrast between rich and poor in this big city shocked her. She knew she had to do something. Leonie asked her neighbor, a very conscious and socially active woman, to take her along to the hills of Manchay. Manchay are the slums at the edge of the city. Her neighbor works there for a project that is helping children learn how to read, write and do math. “I never really left after that first visit,” Leonie states.

The Manchay slums

From the first day she set foot in Manchay, Leonie did what many are afraid to do: she left the main road and walked up the small paths, weaving through the area. She went inside the houses, and opened closed doors to the shacks where families live, most just a few square meters in size, where eight people, grown ups and children, share just two beds. Where there is no running water or electricity. Where mothers---most times the fathers have abandoned their families---have to fight so hard to live that they don’t have the energy to keep their homes clean and tidy. The children live among vermin. Their toilets are holes in the ground, without any shelter. The children show signs of neglect and malnutrition. Their bellies are swollen, their teeth are rotting, they have untreated skin infections and abrasions on their noses. These are the heartbreaking results of poverty.

 
the children in Manchay doing yoga
 

Yoga classes for the children in Manchay

Public education in Peru is often not up to our Western standards, so the only place to get a quality education is at one of the numerous expensive private schools in Lima. However, the impoverished children of Manchay cannot afford to pay for education, and the public education is, simply put, poor. On any given day, a child might come to school and do nothing more than fold paper because he or she does not own a pencil to write with, and the child’s teacher does nothing to improve the situation or raise the quality of teaching. While the children don’t receive actual education in school, they don’t receive stimulation or education from their home environments either. The divide between rich and poor will never disappear if the children in slums like Manchay aren’t given an actual chance. Leonie wants to offer them that chance.

She teaching English and yoga classes as a volunteer at two primary schools. The children loved the classes. They opened up to the love and attention Leonie offered them, looking for balance in the yoga poses. “There is nothing like the smile of a child that is treated with love and attention, that is growing and evolving!”

Con Pazion

Leonie’s goal is to empower children and create sustainable change. Con Pazion was founded with the goal of starting a primary school in Manchay based on holistic principles, with possibly more schools to follow. Schools where children will not only be taught how to read, write, and do math; they will also be educated about personal hygiene, about the world around them. Our teachers will teach with empathy. Yoga will be part of the curriculum to make children less vulnerable, both physically and mentally, and to help them be ready to make a positive contribution to their community as they grow. Leonie describes that as yoga both on and off the mat. Through Con Pazion’s website, Instagram, and Facebook, Leonie keeps her followers up-to-date with progress towards the goals.

Yoga with Adriene and Adidas

The well-known yoga teacher and inspirational figure Adriene (Yoga with Adriene), helped Leonie to reach hundreds of people, spread out over the globe. She also introduced Leonie to Adidas. A generous donation from this sports brand gave Con Pazion an amazing start. And, countless people have offered their help, people who are inspired by Leonie’s favorite affirmation, #bethechange.

Together with her yoga team, Leonie is bringing yoga to the children of Manchay. With her education team and the collaboration of a private schools, she is working on founding her first school.


Do you want to be part of the change? Consider donating to Con Pazion. Your donations fund our yoga programs and help us spread more love and awareness as we teach yoga and work towards opening our school.

 

 

Magic is happening!

Con Pazion is growing and magic is happening.

As soon as we launched, we received a generous donation from Adidas and the woman who has inspired us from day one, Adriene Mishler. This donation has allowed us to immediately expand our program, and we’re immensely grateful.

We’ve been working hard and planting seeds for the past months. Our team is growing in Lima, Perú, as more and more people contact us and connect with us, wanting to be part of the change.

We now have an education team consisting of seven strong women. Together, we are working on the realization of our first Con Pazion primary school for unprivileged children in the slums of Lima. Our curriculum will integrate yoga & mindfulness, health, values and consciousness in order to equip the kids with the tools and strength they need to move into their future with hope and to live meaningful lives.

The road is long but our education team is strong, determined and the love and devotion is definitely there! 

We want to start helping people immediately while raising awareness and interest in our school and program. To do this, we’re teaching weekly yoga classes on a dusty program in the slums. We have an amazing team of passionate yoga teachers who trek to Manchay and welcome all the neighborhood kids to the class. The children love the classes, and each week our classes get bigger. Our classes are overflowing with meaningful interactions, with peace and compassion that flows straight from heart to heart. The children flourish, and parents have noticed the effects of yoga on their children, and want some yoga for themselves: this week 6 moms requested for a weekly ‘women-only-yoga class.’ Isn’t that amazing?

 The growth is beautiful. We’re honored and humbled by the support we’re receiving.

We’re so, so grateful.

 
 

 

This video of the children chanting with us shows the heart of Con Pazion. It shows the chemistry, the joy, and the awareness, but also shows the difficult circumstances that we work in and work on. Without going into too much detail, the circumstances our children live in are heartbreaking and inhumane. By covering them with a blanket of love and providing them tools to strengthen their body and mind, we aim to empower them to break the cycle of poverty.

Thank you for coming with us on this journey. We're so grateful for your support. 

Much love,

Leonie

 

P.S. Have you checked out our website lately? It’s now available in Dutch, Spanish, and French, with German coming soon. All thanks to KulaPower! 

 

Do you want to be part of the change? Consider donating to Con Pazion. Your donations fund our yoga programs and help us spread more love and awareness as we teach yoga and work towards opening our school.

Let's change the world together.
yoga.JPG

Welcome to the Con Pazion blog! I feel so honored to share this journey with you. 

For me it feels like a miracle is happening. In April 2017, I left my home country the Netherlands to move to Perú. It was a longtime dream for me to live abroad and to help a developing country grow. I found a job at the Dutch school in Lima to ensure I could pay my rent and my bills and then I quit everything in Holland. Deep inside I knew I had to do this. At this point the thoughts of starting my own project on a long-term had crossed my mind, but it wasn’t my main focus. I grabbed my cat, said farewell to my loved ones and took off.

I followed my heart.

Once I arrived in Perú, I was confronted with the disparity in social classes in Perú. It is so extreme. I found it very difficult to see, to experience. I felt I had to do something. Not later, but NOW. To deal with my feelings about what I was seeing and to help the lowest class of society, I started volunteering in the slums of Manchay.

This was three weeks after I first arrived in Perú.

The moment I stepped out of the bus in the slums, I felt like I had found my calling. It is my mission in life to make a difference for the disadvantaged children. I was touched by their smiles, the circumstances they are in, their stories. But above all, I was touched by the deep intense sadness in their eyes. It hit me straight in the heart.

I couldn’t just sit and watch.

I can honestly say this experience is sometimes overwhelming, it’s huge for “just a girl” to handle. But I’m determined to fulfill my destiny and make a difference for these beautiful children. Because they deserve a real chance and we need to break the cycle of poverty.

In the beginning, it was just me with the kids on top of the hill. Practicing yoga or teaching English. It didn’t take long for me to realized I could do more for them by giving them a voice. I started sharing their stories and their circumstances in my Instagram story. That changed everything. Through my pictures I intend to share what I feel while being there. The love, the joy while teaching yoga, the pureness, the smiles but also the disgrace and the intense sadness.

I hope you do feel it.

Over the summer while traveling (I always have the best ideas while traveling) I wrote a plan to help the kids in a sustainable way. The first phrase was: ‘I have a dream.’ For the last six months of 2017, I started working hard, together with the fabulous Con Pazion team, towards the realization of our project. I feel humbled and blessed to work with such an amazing team.

Magic!

Now we’re about to make my dream come true. We're an officially registered charity now, and we can work on sustainable change for the children. We work towards the last sentence of my plan:

“Let’s change the world together.”

I believe we can do it.

But I can’t do it by myself. Are you with me? Will you stand up with me so we can give these children a real chance in life? Let’s change the world together!

Thank you so so much for being on this journey with me. It means the world to me. 


Much love,

Leonie

I alone can not change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
— Mother Teresa