07/20/2005 at 07:00 AM EDT
Supermodel Petra Nemcova, back in circulation following her injuries and after losing fiancé Simon Atlee in the devastating tsunami that struck Asia last December, is now devoting her energies to children affected by the disaster.
"I had such incredible support from all the people – my family and my friends, all the people in New York," Nemcova, whose first name means "stone," tells TV's Extra. "All these lovely people make me into a rock, so I could be strong and survive."
As for Atlee, she says: "He is always connected to me. We are one together. I lost the love of my life but now live for both of us."
Now living in Manhattan, Nemcova is splitting her time between writing a memoir about her experiences (due from Warner Books later this year) and working with Happy Hearts Fund, a charity she established to aid the more than 1,200 children orphaned by the disaster, reports the New York Post.
Before her 26th birthday bash at the SoHo Grand Hotel in New York Tuesday, Nemcova asked her guests to donate to Happy Hearts in lieu of giving her gifts.
"One of the hardest things I have seen is the look in the eyes of those children. It was so hard, because they had this lost feeling and this lost look in their eyes," Petra said. "One of my goals is to bring back the stars in their eyes."