I was fortunate to spend a few days in late October and early November with founder and director Paul Opp and the incredible group of people involved with the People of Peru Project. The work that they do each day for the warm and friendly, yet desperately poor, people of Iquitos, Peru is beyond description.

I was most struck by the depth of commitment of Paul, his staff, and the many volunteers who give so much to those most in need. Each day they return tired and worn out, but there is a light in their eyes that can only be shown by those who have done wonderful things for the world around them.

To put it simply, the world is a much better place because they are in it.

It quickly became apparent that this last trip was a "scouting" trip to allow me to watch them in action and see some of the ways that they affect the lives of the poor in Iquitos. I was only able to touch the surface of how much they truly do. The small clinic, with the soon-to-be-added surgical center, is one of the finest facilities in the city. The medical outreach programs into the unbelievably impoverished barrio of Belen gives desperately needed services to people who would never be able to afford them otherwise.

Poppys House is a crisis care facility providing a wonderful oasis to children who need short-term care during turbulent times in their lives as well as long-term support for young mothers who need a safe refuge to raise their children.

Besides the medical and dental assistance given to thousands and thousands of Iquitenos, the Project also has an education program which has given many young people the chance at a future that would not have been possible otherwise. Even a new dormitory closer to the universities and institutes has recently opened for female university students.

The work of the People of Peru Projects is extensive and on-going. I'm not a doctor or a dentist or even much of a handyman to help out with construction, but maybe I can use my abilities to create to an image will help out the Project in a small way once it is finally completed after I return sometime in the next few months.

The challenges that the Projects face are also extensive and ongoing. Even if you can't make the trip to Peru to volunteer in person, you can donate and/or spread the word about this remarkable organization to others.

To find out more, go to peopleofperu.org.

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