Our Story

Con Pazion was founded by Leonie van Iersel in December 2017 in the Netherlands. Leonie van Iersel has worked in managing positions in schools since earning her pedagogical degree in primary and special education. She has broad experience in primary and special education and she served for 8 years as a vice principal at a private high school in the Netherlands. She has coached hundreds of children. Many of her students are grateful for her motto: ‘With a diploma you can come a long way but without yourself, you’re nowhere’.

Leonie moved to Peru in April 2017, to make a long cherished dream come true: creating a sustainable change in the lives of vulnerable children so that they can reach their full potential. To establish that, Leonie left everything behind in Holland. The first weeks in Lima were tough. The enormous contrast between poor and rich in this big city shocked her. She decided to make the most of it and acted. She started volunteering in the slums of Manchay, an outskirt of Lima, and never left after her first visit. What she witnessed there had an big impact on her and she wanted to share that with the world. She gave the children of Manchay a voice and created a plan to provide them a chance to a better future.

She combined her experiences and her two great passions: education and yoga and the concept for the Con Pazion primary school was born. Her motto still stands and her vision for the Con Pazion school is to create an environment where body, mind and soul are in balance so that a child has the opportunity to feel safe, grow and flourish, offering the children the chance to become the best versions of themselves and through that make a difference for themselves and others. She wants to make underprivileged children physically and mentally more resilient and strong. So that when they grow up, they will be able to make a solid, positive contribution to society and the world.

Con Pazion works in the slums of Lima, Peru, where we work with children who live in extreme poverty. Con Pazion is currently working on the realization of the first primary school in Manchay, an impoverished neighborhood in Lima. The school will open its doors in March 2020.

What’s in a name?

The name Con Pazion embraces all of our values as a foundation. It came from the Spanish phrases "con paz," meaning with peace, and "con pasión," meaning with passion. This is combined with the word "compasión," meaning compassion, which is also the name of the group where Leonie started volunteering in Peru. Compassion was also the theme of the Find What Feels Good roadshow (with Yoga with Adriene) that inspired Leonie to move to Peru. She thought it was time to give something back to the world. To make a difference for underprivileged children and to make a sustainable contribution to this world. The word Zion has meanings of being raised up and fortified. Our goal is to empower the children to rise up and overcome difficulty in their lives, and to live meaningful lives with peace and compassion.


Our Team

Our team is growing as we work to open the primary school in Peru. Con Pazion works with 70 volunteers in Perú and abroad. Our team of volunteers is responsible for the involved in the creation of our holistic curriculum for the primary school, the execution of the pilot project, our yoga classes in state schools and for our weekly community classes and activities.



Leonie van Iersel

Founder, Director
Education manager
Yoga Teacher - 200 RYT

Rachel Rock

Marketing Manager

Kevin French

Project Manager


Board Perú:

Leonie van Iersel


Pamela Battifora del Pozo


Marieke van der Zon


Alejandra Burgos



Board The Netherlands:

Biddy Messchaert

Board - Chairman
Yoga Teacher - 200 RYT

Marijke Breugem

Board - Secretary

Vincent Gerichhausen

Board - Treasurer

Board United States:

We are looking US Board Members ! The Con Pazion US organization is in its beginning stages and needs help from experienced, passionate, and dedicated individuals to get off the ground. This branch of Con Pazion will largely focus on fundraising and spreading the mission of the organization in Peru. We are looking for a few different positions on the board (see here). Board Members will serve three year terms, so only serious candidates please! If you think you would be a good fit, please contact us at info@conpazion.org by Sunday, April 14th.


Adriene Mishler

Yoga Teacher - Yoga with Adriene

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Be the change you want to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandhi