Making purple the colour of kindness

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am


Inspired by a child's tragic wish for two purple birthday cakes, Hong Kong children are joining a global campaign to provide education for the underprivileged.

Kindergarten children from schools in the city are taking part in Purple Cake Day, set up by New Zealander Emily Sanson-Rejouis in memory of her husband and two daughters, who died in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, where she worked for the United Nations.

Sanson-Rejouis chose purple cakes because that is what her daughter Zenzie wanted for her fourth birthday - an occasion she would not live to see.

'The childish delight on her face when asking for two purple cakes,' she said. 'It struck me as being so free-spirited.'

All 10 of the Woodland Pre-Schools and the City Kids Hong Kong Preschool Playgroup Association have participated for the first time. Nine of the 10 Woodland pre-schools have jointly raised HK$128,690, with the Repulse Bay Montessori Pre-School still to hold their Purple Cake Day tomorrow.

The money raised by children in Hong Kong and 12 countries, including Australia, Britain and the United States, will go towards building a school in poverty-stricken Nepal. As such, many of the participating schools used a Nepal theme during their activities.

The children have spent the last few weeks learning about the plight of the people of Nepal and the importance of giving.

On Thursday, children donned purple clothes, created purple handicrafts and nibbled on baked purple goodies.

It was a sea of purple at the Woodland Tai Tam Montessori Pre-School. Around 80 children aged three to five rotated around different booths on the school's roof to have their faces and nails painted by parents and teachers or paint pictures with vegetables and marbles dipped in purple paint.

What brought the biggest smiles was piping purple icing onto cupcakes, which they devoured with delight.

Keir Macintosh accompanied his five-year-old son Charlie to the day's event after talking to him about the serious side behind the day's fun and games.

'We don't do enough charity in Hong Kong, so I'm happy to give up my time to be here,' he said.

In some Woodland Pre-Schools, some pupils got a taste of Nepalese curry while learning about the country and its flag.

Over at the Woodland Beachside Pre-School in Repulse Bay, teacher Nancy Ho baked purple blueberry pound cakes for her pupils.

Sanson-Rejouis set up the foundation to fulfil her husband's dream of setting up a school in his native Haiti. The first year's fund-raising achieved that goal and allowed the focus to move to Nepal.

Sanson-Rejouis, who now lives in her native New Zealand with her youngest daughter, Alyahna, said her struggle with grief and survivor's guilt is 'still very real', but striving to inspire children has helped her get back on her feet.

She said Zenzie's request for purple cakes captures the innocence of children.

'She didn't want chocolate or strawberry... They had to be purple! I want children to know that they are special and their ideas are valued.'