Leon Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most popular male singers and actors, was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in July 1994.
Lai's association with UNICEF began in 1993, when he helped launch a project to eradicate polio in China. With his strong support, more than US$3.5 million was raised from 1993 to 1995 for the purchase of polio vaccines to immunize more than 80 million children throughout China. Lai also contributed substantial funds raised from the ticket sales of one of his concerts to the project. He and his fans also helped raise almost US$300,000 more from the sales of chocolate candy.
Change for Good
In the same year Lai taped a video spot for the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF’s Change for Good programme. The video, which was shown on all Cathay Pacific flights from June to October each year, during the Change for Good campaign, has helped raise more than US$4 million.
Lai had his first opportunity to see UNICEF’s activities in various countries when he travelled to Rwanda, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania in July 1996. On his return to Hong Kong, he promoted the projects he had visited with the media and performed in a concert to raise more than US$770,000 for children affected by war.
In 1997, Lai launched the ‘Summer Fragrance Campaign’, involving sales of scented soaps in more than 100 venues in Hong Kong. In just two days, the campaign raised US$200,000 for girls’ education projects in China. Later that year, along with a Hong Kong television crew, Lai visited and promoted girls' education and women’s development projects in China.
Lai went on a one-week mission to Brazil in October 1998, visiting programmes for children living on the streets, children involved in child labour, suffering from commercial sexual exploitation and children living with HIV/AIDS. He organized an exhibition of photos and a series of television programmes about his trip on his return to Hong Kong.
In 1999, Lai participated in the Friends of UNICEF television advocacy campaign and gave a concert benefiting UNICEF. He also donated the proceeds of another concert to UNICEF.
Since then, Lai has continued to take every opportunity to raise funds for UNICEF and promote the organization's initiatives, including ‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ (encouraging students to fund-raise for UNICEF at Halloween) and 'Say Yes for Children' (which focuses on 10 key principles seeking to improve the lives of children around the world).
Born in 1966 in Beijing, Leon Lai moved to Hong Kong with his family at the age of four. He was educated in England. He first came to public notice in a television singing competition and went on to find great success as both a singer and an actor. His popularity extends into China and the rest of Asia, where sales of his recordings have soared, adding gold and platinum records to his credits. His music has also won several major awards.