On December 26, 2004, the world watched in shock as a 9.1 magnitude earthquake brought the Great Indian Ocean Tsunami to life, changing the lives of millions. As the death-toll sadly rose to more than 250,000 individuals, this disaster was the biggest natural disaster of our lifetime. For co-founders, David Campbell and Petra Nemcova, this disaster was a turning point in each of their lives, ultimately leading to the creation of All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response.
When the tsunami occurred, David Campbell was on the verge of retirement. Armed with donations collected from friends and 40 years of business management leadership, David traveled to Thailand, determined to help. The experience was life-changing and resulted in David creating and leading the nonprofit, All Hands Volunteers; a natural-disaster response and rebuild organization. The organization enabled volunteers to provide hands on assistance to survivors of natural disasters, both within the U.S. and abroad. Having operated on both domestic and international platforms for more than 13 years, the organization’s reputation allowed them to earn the highest possible 4 Star Rating by Charity Navigator and a Top 5 Star-Rating from Greatnonprofits.org and GoOverseas.com.
David volunteered on dozens of post-disaster projects internationally. In 2007, he met Petra Nemcova in Peru, during their organizations’ independent Peru earthquake responses.
Disaster Resilient Schools
Petra Nemcova is a supermodel, philanthropist, and entrepreneur who epitomizes the statement “We can’t control nature, but we can control the actions we take.” When the 2004 tsunami struck, Petra’s life was altered forever. In a matter of seconds and without warning, she and her partner were swept away in the great Indian Ocean Tsunami. The power of nature was too strong for anyone and unfortunately, Petra’s partner lost his life. She miraculously survived the Tsunami by clinging to a palm tree for 8 hours, with a pelvis that was broken in 4 places. She was found by a Thai man who risked his life to save the lives of strangers; another wave could have come any minute yet he chose through his selfless love to try and help.
Petra recalls that the most painful part of this experience was not the physical trauma but the emotional pain of hearing children screaming for help whilst she was hanging onto the palm tree. At that moment, she didn’t have the option to help them but now she has made it part of her life mission to aid children who survive natural disasters but are often forgotten. This experience has fueled her daily passion to make a tangible difference in the world around her and to help rebuild disaster-resilient schools and homes. With this passion as a driving force, Petra founded her charity, Happy Hearts Fund (HHF) in 2005 with the objective to rebuild safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters.
From its inception, Petra was involved on a daily basis. Her initial work, in an executive capacity, helped establish the structure, vision, and strategy that positioned HHF for long-term success. Happy Hearts Fund rebuilt 171 schools in 10 countries. Petra’s experience of the power of Mother Nature helps her connect with those in need of aid, empowerment, and hope after their lives have been shattered.
All Hands Volunteers and Happy Hearts Fund initially joined forces in Nepal in 2015 to rebuild disaster-resilient schools in the wake of the devastating Earthquake. Recognizing the synergy that could come from combining these two strong and disaster-focused nonprofits, David and Petra led efforts to combine around the “Smart Response” motto. In Fall 2017, they announced that their 2 organizations had merged to form All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response.
We are an organization committed to effectively and efficiently addressing the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. All Hands and Hearts arrives early for first response and stays late to rebuild schools and homes in a disaster-resilient way.