January 20, 2010 11:39 ET

13-Year-Old UNICEF Canada Child Representative, Bilaal Rajan, Urges Youth to Help the Children of Haiti

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 20, 2010) - UNICEF Canada Child Representative, Bilaal Rajan, 13, today announced a challenge to all of his Canadian peers to each raise $100 for the children affected by the devastating January 12 earthquake in Haiti. All the proceeds raised by Rajan's Haiti challenge will go towards UNICEF Canada's Haiti Emergency Fund. Students can participate in school-based fundraising activities, visit www.unicef.ca to set up their own fundraising page and download a donation poster, or engage in their own fundraising with family, neighbours and friends.

"Thousands of people in Haiti have died, and an estimated 300,000 are homeless," said Rajan. "The challenges of the Haitian people won't go away overnight, but young Canadians can make an enormous difference. I know that youth across Canada will step up to the plate and make every effort to help the children of Haiti who are suffering."

Canadian children have already proven that they can come together after an emergency to support and rebuild the lives of other children across the world. In 2004, Rajan launched his first UNICEF fundraising challenge, at the age of eight, called the UNICEF Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge, through which Canadian children raised more than $1.8 million to help their peers whose lives were impacted by the earthquake and tsunami of south Asia. Canada's youth contributed again in May 2008 to those affected by the Myanmar cyclone through Rajan's Me and You for the Children of Myanmar UNICEF fundraising campaign.

Although Rajan is confident that Canadian youth will take action to help the children of Haiti, he is adding an extra incentive. He will shave his head in honour of the school or individual student that raises the most funds.

As the lead UN agency for water and sanitation in the quake zone, UNICEF is working to provide survivors with family water kits, water-purification tablets and other supplies aimed at mitigating the deadly effects of contaminated water.

Donations to UNICEF Canada's Haiti Emergency Fund can be made online at www.unicef.ca or by calling 1-800-567-4483. Canadians can also donate by texting "Give" or "Don" to 45678 on their mobile phones, which is a $5 donation per text. Subscribers who donate by text will have their donation added to their monthly bill.

Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, UNICEF Canada has already raised over $5 million dollars for Haiti earthquake emergency relief efforts, but more resources are urgently needed to protect children who are particularly vulnerable during natural disasters.

About UNICEF: UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information and to arrange an interview with Bilaal Rajan: Kathleen Powderley, on behalf of UNICEF Canada, kpowderley@unicef.ca, Tel. (416) 803-5597.

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