Asyiela Putri Azhar, the voice of cartoon characters Upin and Ipin, standing between the mascots of the twins at a recent promotional event.
U.N. RECOGNISED: Unicef used characters to raise awareness on the role of children
ANIMATED characters Upin and Ipin, first appearing in television in 2007, have captivated the hearts of the children across Southeast Asia.
Stories of their cheerful and adventurous childhood in Kampung Durian Runtuh, along with the antics of their sister, grandmother and friends, recorded up to 1.5 million viewers at one time.
These animated characters had garnered a whopping 6.1 million "likes" in Facebook and a movie featuring the twins, Geng--The Adventure Begins, was released in 2009.
In April, Upin and Ipin also appeared in a musical at Istana Budaya. The animated series is now into its sixth season, and currently airs on the Disney Channel.
The "5-year-old twins" had made Malaysia proud, and their achievements did not stop at the national level. The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) was also impressed with the twins' popularity.
Unicef representative to Malaysia Wivina Belmonte said after looking at the characters' strong following, the organisation decided to include them in the 2012 Universal Children's Day celebration here.
"Unicef is impressed with the television series Upin and Ipin because it showcases the ideal behaviour of kids towards adults, their surroundings and their friends.
"The series also encourages kids to speak for themselves and to show how adults can connect positively with kids," she said during the Universal Children's Day celebrations last month.
According to Belmonte, the characters were in line with Unicef's theme of Children4Change, which aimed to celebrate and recognise the role of children in society.
A number of events were held to commemorate Children's Day.
The Upin and Ipin carnival was organised by Unicef from Nov 9 to 11, and the producer of the television series, Les' Copaque Production Sdn Bhd, received a positive response.
Held at Titiwangsa Stadium, the activities included group singing, dancing, photography sessions with Upin and Ipin mascots, merchandise sales and interactive games.
Upin and Ipin are an embodiment of childhood, facing unique challenges while growing up.
In the show, their voices actually belonged to one girl, Asyiela Putri Azhar, 12.
Asyiela, who has been in the programme for the last three years, said, "Lending my voice to Upin and Ipin has taught me to overcome my shyness. I also enjoyed promoting the series in Indonesia and Singapore and meeting the fans there."
Unicef dedicated last month as the Universal Children's Month.
Children's Day is celebrated on Nov 20 all over the world, after the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989.
Belmonte said children who participated in society could make a difference in the world.
"Through their ideas, experiences and insights, children are able to enhance their understanding and make a constructive contribution to the world.
"Children who are quiet cannot challenge violence and abuse that they face.
"Their capacity to learn is restricted without the opportunity to question, challenge and debate.
"Policymakers cannot overcome barriers to fulfil children's rights if children do not voice their problems," Belmonte said.