The following is a message from Planet Aid President and CEO Ester Neltrup:

It was an incredible year for Planet Aid. As I look back, I will remember the people we have helped who are beginning their journey out of poverty.  In Mozambique, for example, we reached 65,000 children through our Food for Knowledge school lunch project. This effort has provided an important daily nutritional boost to kids who often go to school hungry, while also supporting their cognitive development. 

But that's not all. We also set up the kitchens and water sources at 243 participating schools. That way, the schools will have the means to make lunch a regular part of daily life for children long after the project ends. 

To increase learning, 4,000 new teachers are being trained and schools are receiving educational resources to help kids become readers and acquire other needed skills.  Because of all these efforts, children are coming to school more often, are more eager to learn, and are beginning to see an education as a path to a brighter future.

Helping 65,000 kids is no small undertaking. But that number represents only part of Planet Aid's Food for Knowledge story.  Each one of those 65,000 kids is an individual story of hope.

For example, there is Ana, a 14 year old from the village of Maguaza who could not read or write. Because of the extra help Ana received in the literacy club established by the project, she has learned to read and now dreams of becoming a doctor. 

There is also Fernando, who had failed the fifth grade three times because he, too, could not read or write.  Now thanks to the project, he is making steady progress, is participating in the project's mathematics and literacy clubs, and has set his sights on secondary school. 

These stories, like so many stories of success from the developing world, are about people seeking to improve their lives. Removing the hurdles imposed by poverty can make all the difference. Often, all that is needed is a small boost, such as a lunchtime meal and the encouragement and support to keep on trying.  As Ana and Fernando well demonstrate, there is hope for progress.

As we look ahead to 2015, Planet Aid and its partners will do all we can to help more children like Ana and Fernando in Mozambique, and in the other developing countries where we work. 

In closing, I want to sincerely thank our loyal supporters for helping us carry out our mission. Without your contributions, none of this would be possible. I also invite others to join us in making a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor.  On behalf of everyone at Planet Aid, I wish you all the best for the holiday season and for the New Year.

Ester Neltrup