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Daniel Klopp, founder of Voices for Peru, visited Tuesday to tell students why he started the organization that works to improve education. The Pleasant Valley graduate now lives in Lima, Peru.
“I was 22 when I first came to Peru. As a licensed psychologist, I was called by the government to attend a conference there, all expenses paid.
“I was still young and thought I was more important of a person than I actually was, so you know, I expected, like, some sort of limousine or a guy in a fancy suite to escort me. Well, I get off the plane, and I see this grungy-looking guy holding up a piece of paper with my name scrawled on it,” Klopp said.
“So I go down to the guy and at this point in time I don't speak Spanish. After playing charades to communicate I was the person he was looking for, my luggage and I were stuffed into a tiny, run down car.
“That night, I slept on the ground with an inch-thin sleeping mat in total darkness, with a bunch of strangers that did not speak my language surrounding me.”
Klopp said that experience was pretty horrible, but it was because it was horrible that he decided to stay and launch Voices for Peru, (V4P for short) a non-governmental organization that promotes a safer environment and education for ages three to five of the impoverished locals, as well as a soccer club with the slogan “Where you begin is not where you have to end up.”
The organization hopes to one day raise the capacity up to 12th grade through donations.
“A lot of the time, kids grow up thinking they know where they want to go and who they want to be in life. That or they think they have to be someone. But just as much of the time, this isn't true,” Klopp said.
“Once, this woman came up to me and told me that she had five kids, but she needed to sell two to the Mafia for around four thousand dollars each,” he said.
To keep V4P up and running, Daniel Klopp has had to endure many things, including wearing a bulletproof vest to work, being followed by a bodyguard, held at gunpoint, even landing in the middle of a drug cartel conflict.
Despite his career choice being very dangerous, he has committed his life to helping Peru become little bit better, one child at a time.
“I remember two young men that felt the need to carry guns on them at all times, including when they were introduced to Voices for Peru. Of course, we had them understand that they were safe with us; they’re now both going to college. It’s really amazing to see how much each student grows,” he said.