Leveraging on the clout of a famous personality to spread awareness of a new brand certainly isn’t new. It’s been done before, countless times. But there’s something special about Petra Nemcova…

Petra Nemcova is a former Victoria’s Secret Angel and television host, a vision of beauty and class. But Nemcova ain’t just a pretty face…

As the founder of the Happy Hearts Fund, a not-for-profit organisation that builds schools in communities destroyed by natural disasters that she established in 2005 after surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (in which she tragically lost her fiancé), the dedicated philanthropist is as inspiring and warm-hearted as she is beautiful.

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Her organisation has already raised over $25 million and helped over 100,000 children. And with a new partnership being forged with U by Uniworld, the new Guardian Angel and her charity will do even more to help make the world a better place.

Because, after all, fairy godmothers are a little too traditional for a game-changing brand like U by Uniworld, which will begin running millenial-only cruises in Europe next year (with future plans for Asia too).

On the recent inaugural U by Uniworld cruise through France (which we were lucky enough to experience for ourselves), KarryOn had the privilege of sitting down with Nemcova to talk about the Happy Hearts Fund and her mission to make the world a better place – which gels so well with our own belief in the power of #traveltochangetheworld

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What makes the Happy Hearts Fund different from other emergency relief organisations?

First responders and the majority of the support usually only comes in the first three to four weeks. But once the first responders leave and the media attention dies away, local populations are left on their own to rebuild their communities. Although the help received in those first few weeks is crucial, it takes years to rebuild a community devastated by a natural disaster.

I noticed that there was a gap that needed filling, and that’s where the Happy Hearts Fund seeks to make a difference. We fill that gap by partnering with local organisations on the ground and commit to staying for two years or more after the disaster. That way the communities know that we’ll be there over the long term and we won’t just leave.

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What can we all do to help these affected communities in the aftermath of a natural disaster?

One of the things we can all do is to keep reporting – one month, six months, two years later – on the aftermath of a natural disaster on our social media pages.

It takes time for communities devastated by natural disasters to get back on their feet, and they need all the support they can get in the weeks, months and years it takes to rebuild. The more support they receive from the international communities, the faster they can get back on their legs.

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What has been the most effective way of spreading awareness of the Happy Hearts Fund?

Partnerships, definitely – I call them “smartnerships.” We believe in partnering with companies and brands that are conscious and understand that it takes years to rebuild the lives of children and communities; brands such as U by Uniworld.

We also host Gala Dinners where we have lots of press come in to help spread the word, and bring our friends along to the communities we’re helping. So far we’ve built 165 schools in 10 different countries, but of course there’s still more work to be done.

To learn more about the Happy Hearts Fund and to find out how you can help support its admirable work around the world, visit http://happyheartsfund.org

READ: Tollman: “We launched U by Uniworld because millennials wanted to experience river cruising too”

READ: What’s next for U by Uniworld? New ships & Asia

READ: Why U by Uniworld is a total game changer for millennials who love to travel

How important is it for travel brands to make ethical choices in this day and age? Tell us what you think in the comments below…