She’s known as the girl in the picture. Kim Phuc is recognized around the world as the face of children who were put in harms way during the Vietnam War.
This weekend she was the keynote speaker at the Bob Ewert Memorial Dinner. Her message to the crowd was one of hope and forgiveness.
She told the crowd about when she first came to Canada, seeking asylum in Newfoundland.
“Mommy and Daddy had nothing. We had each other and we had freedom so we had everything… I stopped asking why me, I counted my blessing instead of complaining.”
Phuc captured the attention of the world in 1972. The iconic photo shows her at nine years old running naked on a road after being severely burned by a South Vietnamese napalm attack.
“Even though I was 9 year old I still remember very, very well what happened to me.”
In the 1990’s a connection was created between Phuc and our community. Prince George born author Denise Chong wrote a book, “The Girl in the Picture: the Kim Phuc Story.”
It took Chong almost five years to build a relationship with Phuc and write her story. Chong says she clearly remember the moment she knew she’d gained Phuc’s trust.
“She came down from the upstairs and she was wearing something sleeveless. And she would always cover her arm to cover the burn scars and right there that just spoke volumes.”
This weekend, their roles reversed. Phuc was introduced to Chong’s hometown and saw her community. Chong says it was a huge honour.
“It’s one honour piled on top of many because I get the chance to re visit that intense relationship with the book, I’m standing on the home turf of my home city. I’m so proud of UNBC.”
On Saturday night, Phuc spoke to a crowd of more than 800 people. She shared her story of resilience. Of a little girl who became recognized around the world and in the years since has been on an incredible journey of forgiveness and hope.
“My life should show you that forgiveness is more powerful than any weapon of war.”