Something to smile about

Looking back on the moments this year that made children smile.

By UNICEF
Franky smiling in "La Casita," Panama.
UNICEF/UN0560339/Urdaneta
27 December 2021

Smiling is contagious and these happy children from around the world are sure to put a smile on your face! Find out what's been making them smile this year:


Above: Franky, 3, was separated from his parents during the crossing of the Darien Gap, a dangerous jungle that separates Colombia and Panama, but reunited with them both a couple of days later. Franky was brought to "la Casita", a safe place UNICEF and Aldeas SOS established in Panama to protect unaccompanied children until their parents arrive. The number of migrant children who cross the Darien Gap on foot has hit an all-time high – almost 19,000 made the journey between January and October 2021, nearly three times more than the number recorded over the previous five years combined.

15-year-old Omar Faruk poses in front of the camera in front of his house at Ahmedpur Union, Char Fasson, Bhola, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh: Omar Faruk, 15, is delighted to receive sewing equipment and training. He has even started his own business and is able to contribute financially to his family. Omar is part of a skills training programme for adolescents with disabilities that is funded by UNICEF in partnership with the Department of Social Services.

Asal, 6, is excited – it’s her first day of school near Sarajevo.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Asal, 6, is excited – it’s her first day of school near Sarajevo. She left Afghanistan with her parents when she was only a toddler. They travelled through Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro. Today, she’s one of 60 children from a temporary reception centre for refugees and migrants who have enrolled in formal education.

Little Hanna smiles for the camera.

Ecuador: Little Hanna smiles for the camera. Hanna lives in Pijal Alto, a community in the north of Ecuador that is supported by a chlorination plant donated by UNICEF. The plant provides clean water to 1,600 people.

Jovilisi Raqere, 7, smiles for the camera at a child friendly space in Fiji.

Fiji: Jovilisi Raqere, 7, smiles at a child friendly space in Fiji. Following Tropical Cyclone Yasa, the child friendly spaces were part of the urgent assistance that UNICEF delivered together with the Government and partners.

These girls are all smiles on their first day of classes in the North of Niger after receiving new school kits.

Niger: These girls are all smiles on their first day of classes in the North of Niger after receiving new school kits. UNICEF provided new school materials and training for teachers and parents to help manage the school.

A one-year-old boy shares a laugh with a polio vaccinator.

Pakistan: A one-year-old boy shares a laugh with a polio vaccinator. Pakistan launched its first national campaign of the year in January aimed at vaccinating over 40 million children under the age of five against polio. More than 285,000 polio frontline workers were engaged in the campaign, meeting caregivers at their doorstep while adhering to strict COVID-19 safety measures and protocols when vaccinating children.

Erika Estrada, 12, smiles in her living room in Caracas, Venezuela.

Venezuela: Erika Estrada, 12, smiles in her living room in Caracas, Venezuela. She is one of the students reached by a UNICEF-supported school feeding programme that aims to encourage children to stay in school. During the COVID-19 pandemic the meals have been delivered to children’s homes, reaching over 50,000 children between January and March.

Ho Van Huy in central Viet Nam is happy to be drinking clean water.

Viet Nam: Ho Van Huy in central Viet Nam is happy to be drinking clean water. After storms and floods in the region affected nearly 2 million people in January, UNICEF provided emergency supplies, including water filters, to affected communities.

Rowaida, 4, is happy to be playing with her siblings again as she recovers from severe acute malnutrition.

Yemen: Rowaida, 4, is happy to be playing with her siblings again as she recovers from severe acute malnutrition. The child malnutrition crisis in Yemen is exacerbated by the conflict with nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition. UNICEF supports thousands of health centres that provide lifesaving treatment for children.