This December will mark ten years since a ferocious tsunami slammed into 11 countries with coastlines on the Indian Ocean, killing almost 280,000 people and wiping out entire communities. A decade later, rebuilding efforts are still underway and in desperate need of funding — a cause championed by Petra Nemcova. The supermodel was vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami hit. She suffered critical injuries, and her boyfriend, photographer Simon Atlee, was killed. She has since founded a non-profit organization called the Happy Hearts Fund that helps rebuild schools in areas devastated by natural disasters.
On June 19, Happy Hearts will host a gala at New York City's famed Cipriani restaurant, with Sheryl Crow set to perform. The singer-songwriter will take the stage alongside the Black Eyed Peas' apl.de.ap for a night of music and honors. Former president Bill Clinton will be recognized for the key role he has taken over the years in helping educational efforts in the wake of disasters. Other contributors to be recognized are President of the Republic of Haiti, Michel Martelly, founder of Caudwell Children, John Caudwell, United Airlines, and both apl.de.ap and his Peas bandmate, will.i.am.
"We have a goal to commemorate [the tsunami's tenth anniversary] with the rebuilding of 100 disaster-resilient schools in nine countries and to shine a light on the need for sustained response to help countries recover after a natural disaster," reports Nemcova. "My deepest gratitude goes to everyone who has supported us over the last few years and has helped us create a bigger and more powerful wave than the Tsunami did — a wave of hope, empowerment, opportunities and brighter future.”
Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund has already built or helped rebuild 85 schools, reaching more than 46,000 children. Click here for more information on the organization and how you can help.