Beliefnet
On December 26, 2004, model Petra Nemcova was on a dream vacation with her boyfriend, photographer Simon Atlee, when a devastating tsunami hit, separating the two. Nemcova clung to a palm tree, in agony from a broken pelvis, and was finally rescued after eight hours. Little did she know she would never see Atlee again--his body would be found months later.

In this excerpt from her new book, "Love Always, Petra," (all proceeds will be donated to Give2Asia/ Happy Hands Fund) she talks about her experience in a Thai hospital.


I lay there for a long time until a young man came over and started talking to me. His name was Eylam and he was from Israel. Eylam had been on vacation with his girlfriend, Carma. The two of them were on a bus going to Khao Lak when the wave hit. They were lucky enough to break a window and swim out; most of the people in the bus weren't so lucky. He and his girlfriend were unhurt. They could have left but decided to stay and help the injured.

"Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked me.

"Please...my legs, I can't move them. Please can you help? Can you hold them together?" I was always saying the same thing.

They took a sheet and tied it around my legs to keep them from separating. It made a difference. They wheeled me out of X-ray and then into a room where there were beds.

In the bed next to me was a Thai man. He had lots of tubes running in and out of his body. He spoke a little English and asked me what my name was and where I was from. Both of us were in great pain, but so thankful to be in a safe place. He told me that he had lost everything; he didn't know what had happened to his family. He feared the worst. I told him what had happened to Simon and me and that I was worried but certain that Simon was okay. After we talked for a while, he reached down and took off a chain from around his neck; on it was a small figure of the Buddha.

"Take this," he said, reaching over and putting the necklace on my bed. "He will protect you now."

I honestly believe this was the last material object that this man had, and he gave it to me. I took the necklace and told him that I would treasure it. I do. I cannot tell you how many times I witnessed little and big acts of generosity from complete strangers-many who lost so much themselves but put their own sorrows aside to help others. I know that for every deed of goodness I saw, there were thousands more, and not just in Asia. All over the world, people were reacting the same; they wanted to help. The tsunami was a horrid tragedy, but out of it came a triumph of humanity.

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