Megastar Ricky Martin is becoming as well known for his charity efforts as he is for his music career. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ricky traveled to Houston where he met some of the youngest survivors. Despite the devastation, Ricky shared the good news: The kids there are resilient. "The healing process for a child is way faster than ours," he told Oprah. "You just look at them and they're smiling and they're ready to move on."
Ricky also shared his concerns for the hundreds of children who, according to the International Center for Exploited and Missing Children, are still missing. Although the whereabouts of these children are unknown, Ricky fears many may fall victim to child traffickers: criminals who kidnap and exploit unsuspecting minors.
Just two weeks after the tsunami struck South Asia in January 2005, Ricky Martin traveled to one of the most devastated areas in Thailand. Ricky was stunned by the similarities he witnessed between the aftermaths of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. "It was reliving everything," he says.
After his life-changing journey to meet tsunami survivors, Ricky shared his story on the show
—and his personal pledge to bring relief. "My mission is—with the help of the world—to build 600 homes for 600 children."
Ricky visited a temporary shelter where 28 deserving families are staying until their new homes are ready. One man has been living with his family in a single, tiny room after his house and thriving restaurant business were demolished by the tsunami. Another family of five has been crowded together, sleeping in hammocks since their home was destroyed.
With the help of volunteers from around the world, Ricky's dream is taking shape. The Ricky Martin Foundation teamed with Habitat for Humanity to start building 250 homes! Ricky's crew put the finishing touches on 60 houses that have been completed so far—and more are on the way. After so much hardship, suffering and loss, each new home gives tsunami survivors a new lease on life.
Sumjay, a mother who lost her only child in the tsunami, is the first survivor to receive keys to her new home. She finally believes she has a chance to begin her life again. That moment—when the key is turned and the door opens—is as special for Ricky as it is for the new tenant. "I hope this house brings you a lot of happiness and joy," Ricky tells Sumjay. "Just enjoy it. I hope it gives you a lot of peace and you feel protected."
Ricky was amazed by the tsunami survivors' resilience and ability to overcome all odds. "Once again, it's all about gratitude," he says. "[Sumjay] told me, 'Ricky, in seven months I realized that to live, you need nothing.' For the past seven months she's been living in a tent! And she was very grateful for the house, of course...but she's a trouper." CNN's Christiane Amanpour reveals a horrific human disaster.