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

January 24, 2022

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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 implications. Legend had it that giving children lucky money was a way to ward off the evil spirits believed to make children sick.   


Whenever and wherever there are children in need, UNICEF is there to help


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 the world's most vulnerable kids to your list. Before COVID-19, they were already endangered by worsening humanitarian emergencies, violence, poverty, exclusion, discrimination and the effects of climate change, among other threats. The pandemic has made things much worse. But as the stories below attest, a donation to UNICEF can help protect children from COVID-19 and its secondary effects, and set the stage for a recovery that protects their rights and futures.



Students in Datong County, in China’s Qinghai Province, hold up a health education leaflet UNICEF developed that's helping them stay healthy. Knowing how to protect themselves from COVID-19 means children who’d been learning remotely could safely return to the classroom. UNICEF also provided masks, bottles of hand sanitizer, bars of soap and thermometers to primary schools in eight counties across the province located in central China. © UNICEF/China/2020/Wang Jing



COVID-19's economic and social impact on Cambodia’s most vulnerable families is severe. Thirty-six-year-old Van Veuy, above with her children, was a migrant worker in Thailand, one of tens of thousands of Cambodians working overseas for higher salaries than they can find at home. But when her employer closed due to the pandemic, Veuy returned to Cambodia so worried about the future that sometimes she resorted to “negative ways of working with the children, old bad habits and bad attitudes.” School closures and the pressures of at-home learning made matters worse. That's when Veuy knew she needed help and enrolled in UNICEF-supported parenting training. “I learned more about my roles and responsibilities as a parent,” she explained. From that point on, she took more time to listen to her children, play with them and fill in as teacher — something her daughter, Niza, above right, appreciates: “My mother always finds time to help me with my homework." © ICS-SP/2020/ Chhay Vivodin



Children with disabilities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Eight-year-old Tung, above, center, and his friends celebrated Lunar New Year at the UNICEF-supported Center for Inclusive Education and Development in Da Nang, Vietnam in February 2021. They all receive special services for the vision-impaired at the center, which has been forced to close periodically since the start of the pandemic. During closures, teachers work to support students as they learn from home, but children like Tung miss their classmates and the independence school brings. UNICEF works with governments and teachers around the world to help schools reopen safely. Closing schools must be a temporary measure of last resort in pandemic response and school should be the first to open when measures are lifted” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Vietnam. © UNICEF/UN0465264/Cai



In Mongolia, newborn mortality rates are going down, thanks in part to UNICEF-supported health care for moms like Delgermurun Tsolomon and her baby, Sugarmaa. Sugarmaa was born on the 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 help families afford health insurance. All of which give Tsolomon high hopes for her baby and all her other children's future: “I dream that they will become well-educated and knowledgeable people and that they will complete their education.” © UNICEF/UN0336408/Babajanyan VII Photo


As families celebrate the coming year, UNICEF will continue to reach millions of children with lifesaving resources, while forging ahead with the equitable delivery of 4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the most vulnerable worldwide.


May the Year of the Tiger bring joy and prosperity to you and the vulnerable children of the world


We hope the Year of the Tiger 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: A child celebrates the Year of the Tiger at a Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. © May Wong/Flickr