Inspired by her own harrowing experience with the 2004 Thailand tsunami, supermodel Petra Nemcova founded the Happy Hearts Fund, a charity aimed at restoring schools for children after natural disasters ravaged their homes back in 2005. The group has recently focused its attention on Haiti, and threw a gala fundraiser recently in an effort to continue relief works for the country.
Nemcova and her celebrity guests – including Sean Penn and Josh Groban – haven’t forgotten about another demographic suffering in Haiti: animals. “I hope that one day, there’s going to be a happier life for children, for all the people of Haiti, and for all of the animals,” Nemcova says. “They deserve to have a happy life as well.”
Native Haitian Wyclef Jean also expressed his concern over our furry and feathered friends at the gala. “With the situation right now, the idea of protecting animals is one of the things that I feel is important,” Jean says. “Animals to me are like human beings, just in different forms, and I would like to see more of that [treatment] in Haiti.” Jean believes there should be more outreach with animal organizations and a focus on shelters. He also feels that more attention should be paid to the country’s sewage system, since it impacts sea animals in that area and outward, so greatly. Also in attendance was Jean’s former band member and friend Pras, both of whom had reached fame as members of the Grammy award winning Haiti-based group, The Fugees.
Joining Nemcova in her support for the third world country included relationship expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Philanthropist Loreen Arbus, TV Personality Wendy Diamond, Haiti Ambassador Stanley Lucas, Hip-hop mogul and Humanitarian Russell Simmons, Donna Karan, Victoria Secret Model Karlie Kloss, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Slated as being ‘America’s Most Courageous Congressman’, Kucinich, a supporter of the efforts in Haiti and guest of Sean Penn, has visited Haiti on numerous occasions, using his political standings to continue the ongoing humanitarian operations.
Luckily, Jean and Nemcova aren’t the only ones thinking of Haiti’s animals. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) formed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) last January. The group has pledged $1.1 million towards long-term animal aid in Haiti. This initiative includes rabies vaccines, Haitian vet training and animal population studies. Last year, they began their efforts in earnest by donating a fully equipped mobile clinic to Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. By April, ARCH had already treated over 14,000 animals! The Happy Hearts Fund’s Land of Dreams: Haiti event held by Nemcova and her fellow activists raised over $2 million, in an effort to expand the building of new schools in the country in need. Show your support and join the relief efforts of Petra and her team by going to their website at www.happyheartsfund.org. You can also help ARCH in its ongoing quest to help the animals of Haiti by donating here.