UNICEF and You Can Make This Lunar New Year Happier for Every Child

January 13, 2020

The Lunar New Year is a time for families to come together and look ahead to the coming year. Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival as it's called in China, is also a time when parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts pass on traditions, memories and monetary gifts to the children of the next generation. 


These cash gifts — called "lucky money," or hongbao in Chinese — come in red envelopes and are especially fun for kids because they get to spend the money on whatever they like. But back in Imperial China, when one in four children died before their first birthday, the custom had more serious undertones. Legend had it that giving children lucky money was a way to ward off the evil spirits believed to make children sick.   


Today, thanks to UNICEF and generous donors, parents in China and across Asia no longer have to leave their children's survival to chance. In fact, over the past three decades, UNICEF's work around the world has helped cut the number of children who die before their fifth birthday by more than half.


This Lunar New Year, as you prepare to hand out red envelopes to the children and young people in your life, please consider adding kids in need to your list by donating to UNICEF.  As the stories of the children below attest, there is no end to how much good your donation can do!



In Indonesia, child survival rates have improved substantially over the past two decades. With UNICEF's help, the nation has cut the mortality rate of infants and children under 5 by more than half. To build upon those gains, UNICEF is now working with the government to provide mothers and children, like Harti Liunokas (above, right) and 1-year-old Nurdi Sela, with quality, universal health coverage. © UNICEF/UN0248728/Noorani



UNICEF is helping Thailand make great strides in early childhood education (ECD), strengthening the quality of care and services for children between the ages of 3 and 5, like preschooler Chommeelap (above). Here, she enjoys some family time with her parents near her school in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son northern province. Today, UNICEF supports ECD centers across 24 provinces in Thailand, with over 10,300 children enrolled. Along with nutritious food, free time to play and the love and devotion of parents, extended family, teachers and friends, school is vital to giving a child the best start in life. © UNICEF/UN0161377/Thuentap



Chronic food insecurity and a shortage of essential services threaten the children of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. When this 2-year-old and her mother (above) arrived at a UNICEF-supported hospital in the DPRK, she was underweight, feverish and plagued by a persistent cough. The diagnosis: malnutrition. But after three weeks of proper care, she was on the mend. "We've been treating her with Plumpy’Nut Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and antibiotics,” said her UNICEF-trained doctor. “She should be ready to leave soon." In the first eight months of 2019, UNICEF provided 1.5 million children under 5 with Vitamin A supplements and micronutrient powder to support their nutritional health. © UNICEF/UN0322838/Nazer



UNICEF's immunization program has made a lifesaving difference to children like Jhay (above with her mother, Bernadette Servano), who just received a vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella at a UNICEF health center in Taguig City in the Philippines. When polio broke out in the Philippines in 2019, UNICEF and the World Health Organization quickly mobilized. Low vaccination coverage, inaccessibility and security issues had put thousands of children at risk. UNICEF is working in tight coordination with the Philippines’ Department of Health and local governments to implement a rigorous immunization schedule to protect the most vulnerable children. © UNICEF/UN0296790/Noorani



In Mongolia, newborn mortality rates are going down, thanks in part to UNICEF-supported health care for moms and babies like 1-year-old Delgermurun and her mom, Sugarmaa. Delgermurun was born last Lunar New Year, and since then, she's thrived under the watchful eye of her doctor and the high-quality care she and all the children in the region now receive. UNICEF has helped make antibiotics available to those who need them, health workers' training has improved and government subsidies now help families afford health insurance. All of which give Batjargal high hopes for her baby and her siblings’ future: “I dream that they will become well-educated and knowledgeable people and that they will complete their education.” © UNICEF/UN0336408/Babajanyan VII Photo


Whenever and wherever children need help, UNICEF is there, delivering the nutrition, health care, clean water, education and protection every child needs to live a full, happy and healthy life. 


We hope the Year of the Rat brings an abundance of joy and good health to you and your loved ones — and that together we can ensure a happy new year for all the children of the world! 


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Top photo: Guoguo plays with his parents in Aijia Village, in China's Hubei province, where a UNICEF Early Childhood Development Center is helping mothers and fathers give their children the very best start in life. © UNICEF/UN06119/Xia