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Haiti earthquake survivor adds Chch to Purple Cake Day

Wednesday 23 February, 2011

Haiti earthquake survivor adds Christchurch to Purple Cake Day’s focus

Haiti earthquake survivor Emily Sanson-Rejouis is pledging to double the efforts of next week’s inaugural Purple Cake Day on March 1st, and offer proceeds to help children in need in Christchurch, as well as children in Haiti, following yesterday’s earthquake.

Nelsonian, Emily Sanson-Rejouis lost her husband Emmanuel and two daughters, Kofie-Jade (5) and Zenzie (3) in the Haiti earthquake on January 12, 2010. Following the earthquake, Emily established the Kenbe La Foundation (‘Kenbe La’ means “Never Give Up” in Haitian Creole), a registered charitable trust, to provide educational opportunities for children in need. The Foundation has since established Purple Cake Day; a specific day to set aside each year to celebrate children and empower them to help children in need worldwide.

“In Nelson, we are in shock about Christchurch, like so many people around the country,” Emily says. “For me particularly it is 'deja vu’ as it has brought back the sounds, smells and flashbacks from my experience in Haiti. The disaster yesterday creates a parallel in so many ways between my direct connection to children in Haiti and now children in Christchurch.

“The focus of Purple Cake Day fundraising this year was nominated originally as Haiti but we have a calamity on our doorstep and it is natural to want to respond to that also where we can,” she says. “I think more than ever Purple Cake Day is relevant to motivate even the youngest members of our community to get out there and do what they can for others in need. It can be a positive tool to direct support to the children in Christchurch affected by the earthquake.

“I want to encourage children all over New Zealand, and around the world, to get involved - to wear purple in solidarity, to go the extra mile to fundraise next week for Purple Cake Day, and we will make a donation from the funds raised to support children in need in Christchurch,” she says. “We have hundreds of schools around New Zealand participating already, and in Nelson children in local schools are writing messages of support and flags of hope to send to kids in Christchurch.

“Meanwhile, in the heart of downtown Nelson there are more than 60 businesses getting staff to wear purple, dressing shop windows in purple, planning to bake and sell cupcakes, and displaying donation boxes.

“On Saturday we have a cupcake stall planned for outside the Nelson BNZ, and we are now going to make double the cupcakes for Saturday so we can donate half the proceeds to Christchurch,” she says.

“We have also just had a song written by local songwriter Kath Bee, which is so relevant this week - ‘Kids helping kids all over the world, that’s what it’s all about.’”

For more information about Purple Cake Day go to:

Website: www.purplecakeday.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Purple-Cake-Day/116940574986342

For media enquiries please contact: admin@purplecakeday.org

Background overleaf…

How to get involved in Purple Cake Day

Individuals, families and community groups

People can do as little or as much as time allows! Some suggestions include:
• Promote unity and solidarity and wear purple on 1 March...dress in anything purple you can find - go wild with it!
• Celebrate and have fun by making, decorating and selling purple cupcakes - a delicious and easy way to spread the message and raise funds for Purple Cake Day.
• Organise your own Purple Cake Day activity - Have a purple disco, host a purple dinner with friends and family, paint a purple artwork, anything goes.
• Get a book from the library or research the web. Learn and talk to each other about how children live in different countries.


A downloadable resource kit is available on www.purplecakeday.org

The Kit includes:

• Declaration on the Rights of the Child
• An inspiring story about a child growing up in Haiti
• Study on Water - activity ideas for all ages of children about the importance of having access to clean running water
• Learning Language - Creole/ French/ English
• Pattern for making flags-of-hope to hang in your school
• Expression through Art - create your own Wearable Art outfit, draw cupcakes and pictures of children celebrating around the world

Further Background

Nelson woman Emily Sanson-Rejouis lost two of her daughters, Kofie-Jade (5) and Zenzie (3), and her husband Emmanuel in the Haiti earthquake on January 12th, 2010. They were among more than 230,000 now estimated to have been killed in the quake. Emily and her daughter Alyahna, now 2 years old, miraculously survived the quake.

She was working for the United Nations in Haiti when the earthquake struck and was in a vehicle, while Haitian-born Emmanuel was with the children in their apartment which was shaken to the ground by the earthquake. Only Alyahna survived.

After rescuing Alyahna with the help of a group of local men, Emily evacuated Haiti and returned to her hometown of Nelson and set up the Kenbe La Foundation, which aims to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. Kenbe la is Haitian Creole for "Never give up".

“Yes, the earthquake has devastated my life, but I do not want it to define me. I get tired of my situation. It's just a constant feeling of loss, grief and exhaustion. That aside, having a focus on manageable, achievable, and concrete projects run by the Kenbe La Foundation and having Alyahna with me every day gives me a lot to live for.”

“Emmanuel loved his country despite the desperate poverty and political problems it faced, and felt privileged to have had an education as it is not something all children had access to growing up there. Because of that he was able to make an incredible contribution back to the world in his life. He realised education was critical if children were to have opportunities in life. That was a goal we had together and I continue to do that work – that keeps him with me.”

“Purple Cake Day also helps me keep my girls’ memory alive as well as provide a celebratory day for all children. The day is inspired by Kofie’s compassion for children less fortunate and by Zenzie who wanted not one, but two purple cakes for her 4th birthday.”

“You cannot control everything that happens to you in life but you can control how you respond to it. In my darkest hours I have pledged to Emmanuel, Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Alyahna to rise like a phoenix from the ashes – to Never Give Up. The Foundation is a way that we can make a difference in the lives of some children. Help me to realize this goal and rise to the challenge.”

To read more about Emily’s story and the Foundation go to http://www.kenbelafoundation.org


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