Petra Gets Wired

Czech model Petra Nemcova, famous for surviving the Asian tsunami, is putting her fame to good use — getting computers to kids. Her latest stop: Haiti. Here, excerpts from her diary.

Most Popular

Before I visited Haiti, I'd heard a lot of bad things about it. "Oh, there's no hope for Haiti," people said. "Forget about it." They couldn't have been more wrong. True, the country is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and people often have to eat mud cakes - yes, actual cakes made of mud - to fill their stomachs. And I'd heard about the sprawling slum called Cite Soleil, where for years people lived in fear of getting machine-gunned down by gangs. But the country has come a long way, thanks in part to a U.N. peacekeeping force, and the Haiti I saw was a beautiful place filled with hope. I traveled to the capital city, Port-au-Prince, with Haiti's native son, singer Wyclef Jean, and we worked together to bring computers to a school near his hometown. For the past few years, I've been helping to build computer labs around the world through my organization, the Happy Hearts Fund, which I started up after the tsunami in 2004. Here's how my latest trip went.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

A NEW WORLD

Most Popular

These kids knew about computers, but had never actually used one. They thought it was funny when Wyclef (sitting next to me) showed them a mouse. "A mouse?" one boy asked. He hadn't heard of that. But soon he'll outgrow the teacher.

HOMETOWN HERO

This is the heart of Cite Soleil, which is near the school where we installed the computers. Everyone here knew Wyclef - he's their idol. When a group of kids spotted him, we stopped our car and got out; then they picked him up and carried him over their heads. It was so beautiful. He is their hope and the light for the whole of Haiti.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY



The kids in Cite Soleil asked, "Are you Shakira?" Actually, a lot of people asked me that, which I thought was funny. I'm the worst singer on the planet, but people kept asking me to sing anyway. Children in this slum are incredibly poor - the young ones often run around naked. Malnutrition is widespread in Haiti; every hour, a child under the age of 5 dies. We gave a T-shirt to a little boy who had no clothes, and then all the kids wanted T-shirts. They were crazy for T-shirts. Just a small thing like that completely made their day.

CHOW TIME



We had traditional dishes of meat, tomatoes, and bananas at this community kitchen, launched by Wyclef and his foundation, Yele Haiti (which means "Haiti's cry for freedom"). There are many ways to help people here - and around the world, for that matter. And it brings you such joy to do so. In fact, it's very selfish to help others, because while you make them happy, you feel even better yourself. This should be the new selfish - helping others!

Culture
Share
What's New on Netflix in May
What is productivity, anyways?
Culture
Share
Kesha Drops a Powerful New Track with Zedd, Makes Us Feel All the Feels
"This is more than a song. It's a declaration of my truth​."​​
Culture
Share
Stop Everything and Listen to Rihanna and Calvin Harris' New Heart-Stopping Club Banger
⚡️​⚡️​​
GIF
Culture
Share
Kanye West Liked Aziz Ansari's "Famous" Spoof So Much He Made It the Official Video
​​Classic Kanye.​
Culture
Share
This Quadriplegic Woman Has Spent $15,000 to Look Like Barbie
She wants to show other paralyzed women that their disabilities shouldn't prevent them from living out their dreams.​
Culture
Share
7 Wedding Traditions That Have Disappeared Over the Past Century
For most modern wedding guests, a "traditional" American wedding would be totally unrecognizable. ​
Culture
Share
The Death of the Cheesy Rom-Com
True-to-life love stories replaced fairytale cliché​s at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.​
Culture
Share
Why I Refuse to Get Botox
Actress Amanda Peet opens up about being afraid to look like a science project.​
Marie Claire + Lenny
Culture
Share
Good Luck Spotting All the Celebrities in the 'Absolutely Fabulous' Trailer
​​"You've killed Kate Moss!" ​
Culture
Share
How a Ballet School in the Slums of Brazil Is Changing Girls' Lives
As the summer Olympics descend on Brazil, a look at the one place where girls take the spotlight.