Founder Story
Born and raised in New Zealand, Emily’s humanitarian aid work took her on an adventure around the world and changed her life. Faced with her toughest challenge, she decided to gently rise up, rally likeminded people and bring hope, happiness and real change through education to children around the world.

I was brought up by parents with a strong social conscience and the energy and motivation to help people in need.  Thinking back now, that must have had a strong impact on me. 
So when I travelled to Cambodia in 1998, fresh out of University with law and political science degrees, it was a natural decision to volunteer for the local United Nations election monitoring operation.

That was the beginning of 10 years of volunteering and professional work, primarily with the United Nations, taking on diverse roles in elections, juvenile justice and peacekeeping operations in Nigeria, South Africa, East Timor, Kosovo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burundi and Haiti.

During that time I met my inspiring and likeminded husband, Emmanuel Rejouis.  Born in Haiti and raised in France and the USA, Emmanuel was later described by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as ''a true citizen of the world'', who ''represented the best of the international civil service''.  We married and had three beautiful daughters, Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Alyahna.

In 2009, we moved to Haiti for a position with the United Nations peacekeeping mission and there our lives were struck by a tragedy, literally incomprehensible. On 12 January 2010, Haiti shook violently with a magnitude 7 earthquake and over 300,000 people died including Emmanuel, Kofie-Jade (5yrs) and Zenzie (3yrs).  Our youngest daughter Alyahna (1yr) was resuced after 22 hours under the rubble, injured but alive.

Shortly after the earthquake, and in honor of my family, I established the Kenbe La Foundation Charitable Trust to provide educational opportunities for children in need in Haiti.  “Kenbe La” is Haitian Creole and means “never give up”.

As an initiative of the Kenbe La Foundation Charitable Trust I established Purple Cake Day on 1 March 2011.  Purple Cake Day celebrates children, empowers them to learn about children around the world and supports them to take action for those in need. In 2011 the celebration focused on learning about and helping children in Haiti.  It was inspired by my daughters; Kofie, who from an early age reached out to children living on the street, wanting to share her things with them, and Zenzie who, when I asked her a week before the earthquake, what she wanted for her 4th  birthday, said,…”I want a purple cake, two purple cakes!”   Zenzie did not live to celebrate her birthday.

From a Haiti focus in 2011 to global focus in 2012 and beyond, Purple Cake Day is increasingly becoming a recognized and well supported day of action.  People of all ages are getting involved,  celebrating children around the world, learning about those in need and fundraising to bring real change, through better access to quality education opportunities.

I am grateful beyond words for the support and love that have surrounded Aylahna and myself after our tragedy. Many people asked what they could do for me and I asked them to support something I believe in -  the innocence, compassion, determination and potential in children around the world. Our children are our future - so let’s celebrate them and give them every opportunity to be the best they can.
Emily Sanson-Rejouis

About Purple Cake Day

Purple Cake Day is a charity event that supports children worldwide to receive the education they need to break the poverty cycle and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. NZ Registered Charitable Trust No. CC44756
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