From the President and the CEO


From Planet Aid's President  — Ester Neltrup

Planet Aid has supported many development projects over its long tenure. One of the earliest projects we assisted is the Child Aid project in Doornkop, South Africa.

Doornkop is an area on the outskirts of Johannesburg where the poor have long taken refuge. The area was first known as “Snake Park,” because it was a wild, undeveloped place of thorn bushes and snakes. As Johannesburg and its suburbs grew, so did Snake Park. With time, it became known as “Silver Town,” because of its large number of silvery tin shanty roofs. Doornkop (the official name today) means “thorn hill” in Afrikaans. It is a place for those with nothing, a place of hardship.

The Child Aid project in Doornkop is implemented by Planet Aid's sister organization Humana People to People South Africa. As the name implies, Child Aid seeks to improve conditions that allow children to grow and thrive, giving them a chance at a better life. Because of the diseases that have afflicted the area (mainly HIV/AIDS) orphans are ever-present in Doornkop. Today, thanks to Child Aid’s work, children have hope. For example, there are 30 new preschools in Doornkop and better sanitation and health facilities for all, among other improvements.

Child Aid is not just focused on children, but also on parents, caregivers, and other adults. For example, the project assists job seekers in creating a resume and finding employment. No matter the activity, Child Aid seeks to create momentum for development through a sense of shared destiny with those it serves. It is this type of mobilization strategy that has contributed to the success of the project over time.

Child Aid Doornkop was recently recognized by researchers at the University of Johannesburg's Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). Centre staff spent years working with Child Aid participants at Doornkop, and recently published a book of research called Development, Social Policy and Community Action.

The authors came to learn that Child Aid embraced a unique understanding and respect for the community. “This was an international NGO, integrated in the community, providing good services,” wrote Tessa Hochfeld, CSDA associate professor. “The staff understood the community; they were very grassroots, with local people working in their local community, but also with good accountability.”

In 2018, Child Aid Doornkop celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Planet Aid is proud of having supported this project for so many years. We know that progress does not come easy and, while some escape poverty, others arrive to take their place. The work goes on. 

I want to sincerely thank all of our donors and supporters for standing with us to help the poor in Doornkop and everywhere else that we have been providing assistance over the years. Without their contributions, we could not be a part of this vital work. 

In closing, I want to announce that after decades as Planet Aid's CEO, I have decided to step down. However, I will continue in my role as president of the board. I also want to introduce Fred Olsson, Planet Aid's new CEO. Fred has been the chief operations officer for many years. He will do a great job leading Planet Aid in his new capacity.

Ester Neltrup


From Planet Aid's CEO — Fred Olsson

In the summer of 2018, a Swedish ninth grader named Greta Thunberg took a stand for the climate. Instead of going to school, she sat outside the Swedish parliament holding a sign that read: Skolstrejk för klimatet (translated: school strike for climate).

Thunberg explained to passersby that she would not attend school until the general election, and criticized the Swedish government for not caring about the worsening climate. She was deliberately breaking the law by skipping school to draw attention to the problem of global warmimg.

Outspoken and committed, Thunberg became an international sensation. Her climate strike swelled to 1.5 million participants around the globe. She made speeches at the United Nations climate summit in Poland and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Being true to her purpose, she refused to fly anywhere and traveled only by train so as to reduce her climate footprint.

Meanwhile, in the United States, 17-year-old Jamie Margolin was busy organizing a nationwide youth protest. Margolin, a climate activist since she was 14, mobilized the new Zero Hour movement to raise awareness and stop climate change. The group's massive march on July 21st demanded that the government take action, including divesting from the fossil fuel industry. 

These two young activists, continents apart, are the vanguard of a generation that will not stand idly by while the Earth is destroyed. Their courage and commitment are an inspiration, and they could not be more right in doing what they are doing.

The need for evasive action to stop climate change is more urgent than ever. With every month that passes the news grows more dire. The climate is careening out of control toward a cliff of no return. We must slam the brakes on carbon emissions before it is too late.

 .                     Photo by Mark Dixon, Creative Commons                      

At Planet Aid, we are doing all we can to help save textile resources and reduce their environmental impact. Clothing consumption has exploded over the past few decades, being driven by the phenomenon of fast fashion. The fashion industry has become one of the most polluting on the planet, emitting about 1.2 billion tons of carbon annually, more than the airline and maritime industries combined.

It is vital that we extend the life of clothing through greater reuse and recycling. The U.S. EPA estimates that the 2.6 million tons of textiles that are diverted from the waste stream annually saves 6.2 million metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of taking 1.2 million cars off the road.  

About 14 million tons of textiles are still being needlessly thrown away in the U.S. annually. If we were to save this additional tonnage, it would be the equivalent of taking another 7 million cars off the road. Join us in making this savings a reality. Find a Planet Aid bin near you and donate your textiles today!

Fred Olsson

See 2018 in review