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By Erin Rutherford
22 January 2023

Smiling is contagious. These happy children and young people from around the world are sure to put a smile on your face. 

Find out what has been making children smile this past year.

Child with his mother in winter clothing© UNICEF/UN0598492/Nicodim

Romania, Feb 2022 - Max, four-years-old, together with his mother, Aliona, was forced to cross the border into Romania after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Together with UNHCR, local authorities and partners, UNICEF has established ‘Blue Dots’ – safe spaces along border crossings in neighbouring countries that provide children and families with critical information and services. 

UNICEF continues to work around the clock with partners to scale up life-saving programmes for children affected by the war. 

Child smiling at camera© UNICEF/UN0621145/Edwards

India, March 2022 –  After a tumultuous couple of years, 10-year-old Mahnoor is all smiles upon returning to school. All states in India returned to study in March, allowing children to connect with their friends and get back to the joy of a noisy classroom.

Child washing hands at water tank© UNICEF/UN0755623/Sharma

Tonga, April 2022 - On January 15, 2022, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano violently erupted, triggering a 1.2-metre-high tsunami. One year on, UNICEF continues to work with partners on the ground to reach families and children with the support they need to recover and rebuild.

Paea, eight-years-old, happily washes his hands from the UNICEF and Government of Japan supported water tank that was built at his home in Tonga.

Child in wheelchair with their caregiver
Stawel and his grandmother Francine outside of their home in West Cameroon.
© UNICEF/UN0668625/Dejongh

Cameroon, June 2022 – Three-year-old Stawel received a wheelchair as part of UNICEF’s Recovery program.

“Since we have the wheelchair, it makes things a little easier. I don’t have to carry him around all the time, and he can sit outside. Since then, I have seen him smile more.” Francine, Stawel’s grandmother.

Children playing on a trampoline© UNICEF/UN0680124/Alhamdani

Yemen, July 2022 – Displaced children in Marib, Yemen, have experienced unimaginable suffering through seven years of conflict.

At UNICEF child friendly spaces, children can be children, smile again, and start to heal.

Baby with cheeky grin being cared for by UNICEF worker© UNICEF/UN0733569/Naftalin

Afghanistan, October 2022 – Mohammed, talks to a mother and her child at a UNICEF-supported mobile health and nutrition clinic in remote Afghanistan.

"UNICEF is more than an organisation for the population, it's a source of hope. We're not just supporting children but also sharing their concerns and advocating for their rights. I love working with children - I treat all children like my own and make sure they’re healthy, smiling and playing."

UNICEF Afghanistan
Child stands with a UNICEF backpack in front of flood waters.© UNICEF/UN0730490/Bashir

Pakistan, November 2022 – In Jacobabad, Sindh province in the south of Pakistan, eight-year-old Ameer goes to school for the first time since UNICEF established a temporary learning centre in her area, which was one of the worst hit by devastating flooding. UNICEF has been delivering safe drinking water, medical supplies and vaccines, therapeutic food supplies and hygiene kits for affected children and families. 

In addition to establishing more than 200 temporary learning centres, UNICEF is looking after the protection and psychosocial well-being of children caught up in the climate change-related crisis.