Petra Nemcova (left), UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (centre), Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe (right)
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- World renowned Czech top model, Petra Nemcova, now calls Haiti home, a place that she is in love with and a country which has a people that deserve opportunities and the capability to empower themselves and be on their own feet, as the Caribbean country has already made significant progress in several areas, Nemcova says.
Nemcova, whose Happy Hearts foundation runs school projects in Haiti, is an ambassador at large and a great friend of the country she has been visiting since 2007, during a visit with Haitian hip-hop superstar, Wyclef Jean.
“Haiti is where I call home now, because that is where I have been living for about a year now and I am very proud to call home this place that I love so much,” Nemcova told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN).
Nemcova spoke to HCNN on the sidelines of a reception held in honour of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, who was visiting Haiti recently.
“As an Ambassador at large for Haiti, I will continue to spread the good news around the world that Haiti is open for business, that things are improving,” Nemcova, who has been living in Haiti for about a year now, told HCNN.
“Please, don’t hesitate to come and be part of the Haiti experience and I am sure it will positively impact you,” she said
In a recent interview to CBS, Nemcova also described progress -- in security, education, in foreign investments and the economic sector -- she has witnessed in the Caribbean nation which was devastated, in 2010, by terrible earthquake that left up to 300,000 people killed and 1.5 million more homeless.
“I can compare 2007, for instance, when the UN could not enter (the slum of) Cite Soleil because it was too dangerous, to now (in Cite Soleil), where Happy Hearts runs two schools and a computer lab and we go in and out without any problem,” she told CBS.
“Haiti is one of the safest countries in the Caribbean, we’ve seen 4.3% growth in the economy, 3 new hotels have been built in 2013, Marriott is opening in 2014, Heineken is investing, Toms Shoes is opening a shoe factory…” she said.
The ambassador, model and philanthropist, who revealed recently her love story with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, was however involved with Haiti before dating Lamothe, a businessman-turned-politician, following the election, in 2011, of Michel Martelly as president.
“Just seeing the change makes me so excited because I had seen how it was before compared to how it is now,” Nemcova explained.
“Haitians deserve opportunities to be able to empower themselves and be on their own feet,” she added.